Monday, December 29, 2014

God-Getting in Touch With the Greatest Mystery of All

I love Fr. Lauder's column's in The Tablet, the Diocese of Brooklyn's weekly newspaper. I've been reading his columns for years. I often save articles I like and so I recently came across an article I saved entitled, "In God's Hands: The Mystery of Divine Providence." This morning I started to reread it and it starts like this...."Catholicism is a religion of mysteries. I think immediately of mysteries such as the Blessed Trinity, the Incarnation, the Resurrection and the Eucharist. I believe that one of the great mysteries that the Catholic Church proclaims and celebrates is the mystery of Divine Providence."
I believe from studying the writings of mystical saints for most of my adult life, divine mysteries as the mystics tell us, can only be pierced through love and then only dimly. But through love as many of the mystical saints have written and spoken of, bits and pieces of the greatest mystery of all-the existence of God-can be known through love and revealed truth.
So for me the greatest mystery of all in life has been the knowledge that God exists, that God loves each one of us as if there is no other, and that we can be in relationship with God through love and prayer. As a baptized Catholic, and as someone who has studied the Catholic religion for my entire life (as a child through C.C.D. classes and later as an adult through my own persistence and propelled by my deep faith), I am very grateful that God exists, that God "calls me by name," and that I am in relationship with God and a child of the Most Holy One.  Anyone who denies that misses out on so much in life, in my opinion.
So for the New Year may you connect more with God, who is the greatest of all mysteries and may your prayer life bring you closer and closer to the good, merciful and generous God, who is always close to my heart and I hope to yours.
Happy New Year!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Healing Needed in New York City-Police Officers Make the Ultimate Sacrifice

So much sadness in the city, so close to Christmas. Christmas ruined for the families, friends and colleagues of the slain police officers, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu.  And the new year too.
So much evil and violence in the days before Christmas on a Brooklyn street.  I can't imagine the pain and suffering those families are living through, a living nightmare.
The shooter who was obviously mentally ill, is yet another case of someone with mental illness "slipping through the cracks." Why does this keep happening? There must be a better way to identify, treat and follow-up with mentally ill people. They disappear into society until the unthinkable happens.
There is no excuse for this anymore with modern technology. You cannot have mentally ill, violent people on the streets, they have to be treated and helped for their own good and for the good of others.
My prayers go out to the police officers who were killed, their families and to all police officers who protect communities.
This madness has to stop. Yes, police reform and better training is needed. But protesters should not be allowed to chant, threats to police, as they protest. That's wrong and it incites violence.  Also there has to be more consistent help for the mentally ill so as to prevent these kinds of atrocities from happening.
May the souls of those two police officers rest in eternal peace. God be near their distraught families.

Cardinal Dolan's words spoken at the end of Mass on Sunday at St. Patrick's Cathedral, addressed to the congregation and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, who was in attendence with Mayor de Blasio.
"Would you tell your officers that God's people gathered at St. Patrick's Cathedral this morning, thundered with prayer with and for them. We love them very much, we mourn with them, we need them, we respect them and we're proud of them and we thank them."

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Archdiocese of New York Parish Closings Upset Many Good Catholics

The most sobering thing I read in the recent New York Times article regarding parish closings and mergers in the Archdiocese of New York ("Archdiocese Appears Likely to Shutter More Churches,")  was the statistic that less than 15% of Catholics in the Archdiocese attend Mass on an average Sunday.
"The parish reorganization is being driven by a shortage of priests, financial troubles and declining weekly church attendance....."
What a shame that more Catholics are staying home, or replacing morning Mass (or Saturday evening Mass) with something else. I've been in Manhattan on a Sunday morning and restaurants have lines of people waiting to have breakfast or brunch. Obviously they're not all Catholic. But it seems from the statistics that young Catholics for the most part in trendy neighborhoods of Manhattan have replaced Mass with socializing with friends over a meal or going to the gym. And those are good things of course, if they didn't replace attendance at Mass. In the life of a Catholic, their should be room for both.
It's very disturbing, that the Eucharistic celebration with all its graces and blessings is not important to so many of the baptized.
The Diocese of Brooklyn just started an aggressive media campaign to encourage more Catholics to attend Mass. And that's good. But more is needed.
The world has changed rapidly, more rapidly than any time in history, because of the internet and social media and the Church while remaining true to her teachings has to think "outside the box," and come up with new and innovating programs to encourage the young (and families) to come to Church.
Closing so many parishes at once, sends the wrong signal. Closing parishes that are financially secure and vital is not a good idea, in my opinion. The article states that St. Thomas More Church on the Upper East Side is "vibrant and strong" and filled with young families. Why would that Church be in danger of closing or merging? I don't understand that, so I can imagine the confusion and anger of the parishioners of that parish.
Exploring and finding solutions to the crisis of low Church attendance should be a priority of every diocese, that has that problem.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Lacking God-Stephen Hawking-"The Theory of Everything"

I recently went to see the movie, "The Theory of Everything," which has a remarkable cast, especially Eddie Redmayne (32) who plays Stephen Hawking in the movie. Eddie Redmayne should receive an Oscar for his performance, it's that good.
I enjoyed the movie. Redmayne manages to portray the brilliant physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking, even though he has to "twist himself" by acting like the professor who suffers in real life from ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease).
Stephen Hawking who was only given two years to live, when first diagnosed has managed to become a prolific author and speaker, (aided by technology) yet he doesn't believe in God. Sad for him, because I'm sure in his debilitated state it would give him comfort as belief in God does.
His first wife Jane, who is portrayed as a loving and dedicated wife and mother in the movie, is a believer (Christian) and it puts strain on their marriage because of his atheistic views, as well as his condition.
I saw a quote from her in an article in which she said, "I spent a lot of time in the marriage trying to convince Stephen that he wasn't God." That struck me. There is no question that Stephen Hawking is brilliant, but sadly he's close minded when it comes to belief in a Creator. How someone can study the Universe and cosmology and not realize there has to be a Creator who set it all in motion and keeps it in existence baffles me. There is so much order, diversity, and mathematical exactness in the Universe, can someone as brilliant as Stephen Hawking really believe it's all a coincidence, an accident.
Too much pride, seems to me that's the problem. Pride, one of the deadly sins, its effects can be seen everywhere.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Protesters on the Streets of Manhattan and Near and On Brooklyn Bridge-No Advent Peace

In this beautiful, holy season of Advent when peace should be all around, and there should be the sound of Christmas music and joy, instead on the streets of Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn in NYC, there is confusion, protests, division, misunderstanding and a lack of communication. So sad.
When people feel like there is injustice, when people feel frustrated and angry, then problems begin to surface and literally spill out into the streets.
There has to be change. People have to see each other as children of God, made in the image and likeness of God, people have to respect each other and honor human dignity and the sanctity of human life.
I don't like to see chaos spreading and upsetting the peace of the great city of New York. It doesn't become this great city.
Hopefully some good will come out of the protests in NYC and around the country. (And they will end soon.) In every encounter, every individual has to be dealt with, with respect. Every human being deserves that.
I hope confusion, anger and protests will be replaced with understanding, positive and constructive actions and Christmas joy and peace will return to the streets of NYC. The peace of the Savior. The teachings of the Savior, lived out and applied. Compassion for the marginalized. Please Lord Jesus Come and bring us your peace.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Closing St. Elizabeth's Church UES?-A Spiritual Haven for the Deaf

I'm getting ready to attend Church but I just have to put my "two cents in," and express sadness about the article I read in the New York Times this morning regarding the closing of St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church on the East Side of Manhattan which ministers to a deaf population. According to the article,"Silent Prayers to Save a Sanctuary for the Deaf,"  "The Church has become a haven to nearly 500 deaf New Yorkers , who not only pray there but also come through the week to study religion, meet with clergy members and socialize. That era is about to end. On Nov. 2nd, the Archdiocese of New York announced that St. Elizabeth's would be among 31 churches closing for regular use by next August, part of a sweeping series of parish mergers and closing...."
I hope the Archdiocese reconsiders. According to the pastor, Msgr. Patrick McCahill, who celebrates Mass and other sacraments in Sign Language, the parish is financially secure and the building is in good condition.
It is difficult enough for parishioners to deal with parish mergers and closings but for people with a disability such as deafness, I can't imagine how difficult it would be for them to be losing their spiritual and religious home.
It's not good PR for the Archdiocese. I'm sure wealthy people on the East Side of Manhattan would be willing to help, if financial help is needed. Surely this is a special situation. I think it is.
I pray that the prayers and the pleas of the congregation and pastor of St. Elizabeth are heard.
Msgr. McCahill is quoted as saying, "Please don't let these people, who are marginalized in so many ways by society, be marginalized by the Church." Those are wise words which should be heeded, in my opinion.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Art and Life- Thanksgiving 2014-Thankful For......All That Is Beautiful....All That Is Good

Happy Thanksgiving to All! May your Thanksgiving be all you wish and hope for. For what am I thankful..........
For family and friends, for all my blessings most especially for being born, growing up and living in America, which has given me great opportunities. All people, everywhere, should have the opportunity for good education, decent housing, clean water, healthy food, a just wage and job and of course the chance to grow in faith, and to worship God in peace. Faith is a great blessing in my life, I can't imagine life without it. Catholic prayers, devotions and the sacraments have enriched my life and I am grateful for all the Catholics who have handed that faith and belief onto me. I'm also blessed to be a lay Carmelite.
I am grateful to live near New York City which provides great stimulation, creativity, good food, beautiful churches and opportunities to explore and attend great cultural events and museums.
Speaking of museums, one of my favorite places in NYC is the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I was there this past weekend with my family. We saw the magnificent exhibit, "Grand Design: Pieter Coecke van Aeist and Renaissance," which features 19 of the grand tapestries that Coecke designed. Its  worth the trip just to see the tapestry-"God Accuses Adam and Eve after the Fall," an extraordinary work of art. Included in the exhibit is "The Story of St. Paul," "The Seven Deadly Sins," The Story of Joshua," and The Story of Abraham." As I write this I think I have to go back once more before January as I'm not sure when I would ever have the opportunity to see these exquisite tapestries again.
I wasn't allowed to photograph inside the exhibit, since the tapestries are not owned by the Met.
But I was able to take a photograph of my son (one of my blessings!) next to his favorite painting. When he was about 8 years old I asked him which was his favorite painting in the museum and it was the one below, which is a very famous painting of St. Joan of Arc by Jules Bastien-Lepage. It's a magnificent painting, no one seemed to mind when I took a picture of it. The artist captures the moment when St. Michael, St. Margaret and St. Catherine appear to Joan in her parents' garden, encouraging Joan to do what she must do.  Happy Thanksgiving to you!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Bono and Others to Sing to Raise Money for Ebola Crisis

I have been wondering, like others, when performers, movie stars and entertainers will step up their efforts to help the poor, suffering people of West Africa, who are stricken with the deadly disease Ebola and a health care system that in horribly inadequate. Now comes some good news out of England that "pop singers and musicians including One Direction, Bono, and Ellie Goulding have joined forces to record a charity song to raise funds to ease Africa's Ebola crisis." Other singers who will take part are Coldplay's Chris Martin, Emeli Sande and others. Thank God for their efforts.
Organizer Bob Geldof was quoted as saying that the British government is willing to waive tax on the single, which is being produced, so that all the proceeds can go to this important and much needed charity.
The most sickening photograph I've seen (though there have been many that upset me) was in yesterday's New York Times, which showed a young 5 year old girl lying in the street stricken with Ebola, with frightened people standing across the street from her, afraid to come close.  Eventually an ambulance came but she died shortly after. The sadness I felt upon seeing that photograph is beyond words.
I have been praying fervently for the people of West Africa and for a cure for this horrendous disease. I am so impressed with the work of "Doctors Without Borders" in West Africa that I sent a donation to them. There have been some very large donations, millions of dollars, which are greatly needed, from such philanthropists as Bill and Melinda Gates and their foundation, Mark Zuckerberg and his wife and Paul Allen. Those are the ones I have read about. I'm sure there are others as well. But all the billionaires in the world need to step up and donate and build hospitals, that are adequate to fight this disease and the other diseases that are prevalent in third world countries.
To think that at the beginning of this crisis, when it could have been stopped or contained,  doctors and people in the community, in some cases were working without rubber gloves, bleach, water and disinfectants. That they were without such simple supplies is incomprehensible.
And so I will keep praying for a cure. I am also praying the rich of the world, corporations and governments as well (the U.S. and Japan have made large contributions) will realize that deadly diseases can "pop" up anywhere and all people in this world have a basic human right to good health care and state-of-the-art hospitals and clinics. There is the money to do this, all that is needed is the will and the generosity.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Rabbi, My Scripture Study Class and Interfaith Dialogue

A few months ago I decided to take a course at a nearby Synagogue. I had never been to the synagogue in my town, but I have been to others for weddings and bar mitzvahs. Having grown up in Brooklyn in a neighborhood where Christians and Jews lived alongside each other, my husband and I have many Jewish friends. So when I saw a course offered in a local newspaper on Jewish mysticism, which was advertised as open to all, I decided to go as it is a topic I am interested in. I invited members from my parish Scripture Study class but others weren't able to go, so I went alone. I approached the class as I do all things pertaining to God and God's word, with openness and receptivity. I was pleasantly surprised that when I attended the class and happened to mention I was Christian, I was welcomed graciously. I was tapped on the shoulder and thanked by members of the congregation for coming.
I loved hearing God's word in the Hebrew Scriptures read in Hebrew and also interpreted by the Rabbi and I learned a lot during the course.
It was a great experience. And so when our parish Scripture Study started again after the summer break, I mentioned how impressed I was with the course, with the whole experience and with the Rabbi, who was also very welcoming and knowledgeable. (But I did stress to my Scripture Study members that I didn't want them going to the pastor of our Church to say that I was converting to Judaism.......I know how these things go and how actions can be misinterpreted.) They laughed but I got my message across!
And so the discussion began. And it went on and on. And as a result of my taking that initiative, the Rabbi was invited to our Catholic Scripture Study class to give a talk. Ironically,  (or according to God's providence), we have been studying and reflecting upon the Old Testament, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to invite the Rabbi and he generously accepted. Of course, we asked the Pastor first and he thought it was a great idea.
And so last Monday we had the opportunity to welcome a Rabbi to speak to our class on the Hebrew Scriptures and the different levels at which they can be read. We studied and discussed Genesis 18.
The Rabbi handed out the text and a sheet with questions. We were trying to get beyond "P'shat" the surface level and a simple understanding to "Sod" the hidden meaning in the Scripture and what the lessons are that can be gleaned from the text. It was very enlightening for all of us.
The Rabbi was pleased that he was reaching out to the community and he learned from us as well.
In my opinion, one of the ways to world peace is through listening, learning, accepting, respecting and understanding that God's will for all people is peace, harmony, tolerance, and understanding.
We did our own little part to bring that about and the dialogue will continue, I hope.

(I decided not to give the Rabbi's name since I didn't ask permission about writing this.)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Bishop Andrzej Zglejszewski-Communion Breakfast at the Seminary And Other Things

I visited the beautiful Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. The renovation is stunning. It's a magnificent Church in a very trendy neighborhood of Brooklyn. What a challenge for the Rector, Msgr. Kieran Harrington, to try to engage the young adult Catholics in the neighborhood!
I walked over the Walkway Over the Hudson in Poughkeepsie, NY this Fall with family and friends.  I highly recommend the experience. If you are not familiar with it, it's the longest, elevated pedestrian bridge in the world.
Auxiliary Bishop of Rockville Centre-Bishop Andrzej Zglejszewski celebrated Mass and gave a talk at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, NY on Sunday, Oct. 26th. It was sponsored by the "Friends of the Seminary" at their annual Communion Breakfast. Bishop Andrzej shared a lot of wisdom and hope with us that morning. In his homily, he spoke about how crucial it is to have God be a part of all our relationships in order for them to be life-giving. Love of God calls us to continual conversion. Love of God calls us to show that love in action. He also spoke about the importance of the Blessed Mother in the life of Catholics and how important it is to stay close to her in prayer and to trust in her closeness to us. It was a great day. The Committee of which I was a part, helped to make the day a success. Bishop Andrzej, a native of Poland, was inspired by Pope John Paul II to become a priest. He was named a Bishop by Pope Francis in Feb. 2014. Expect great things from him!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Economic Inequality Keeps Getting Worse in America-Brooklyn and Queens Are Examples

In an article I read today on Daily Finance, Federal Reserve Chair- Janet Yellen was quoted as saying that, "the growth of economic inequality in the United States wasn't in keeping with American values....The extent of and continuing increase of economic inequality in the U.S. greatly concerns me." She should be concerned, the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer. There's nothing wrong with people living the American dream and bettering themselves (my grandparents as Italian immigrants did just that) but the poor need a chance to escape poverty and have the opportunities that money affords. Education is the great equalizer and good educational programs for all is necessary.
As I've observed, no where is economic inequality more evident than in Brooklyn and Queens in NYC. Real estate prices and rents have "gone through the roof."The poor in places like Redhook,  Williamsburg and Bushwick Brooklyn can no longer afford to stay in parts of these neighborhoods (most parts). Expensive high rise buildings and boutique buildings are going up everywhere, and that's not a terrible thing, if affordable housing was also being built for lower class and middle class families. As I've said before on this blog, I was born in Brooklyn and lived most of my life there and part of what made it great then and now, is the lower and middle class families, living in ethnically diverse neighborhoods. There has always been diversity, stimulation, creativity, deep religiosity and best of all great food in Brooklyn and Queens.
But it seems the world has discovered the attraction of all that Brooklyn and Queens has to offer. Lifelong residents of Brooklyn and Queens cannot believe the amount of money some properties are selling for.
As Janet Yellen said, "Income and wealth inequality are near their highest levels in the past hundred years, much higher than the average during that time span and probably higher than for much of American history before then."
I don't know what the solutions are aside from building more affordable housing but more needs to be done to close this widening gap. People need hope, people need to be rewarded for hard work. Children need a nice home to grow up in, so they can feel proud and part of the fabric of society.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

We Know Jesus Existed And Is Who He Said He Was!

I get upset when I read about nonsense and lies such as the book which is causing controversy because it's filled with distortions and outrageous claims and that's Michael Paulkovich's book, "No Meek Messiah." His so- called research which is being questioned by scholars and even by some atheists, claims that there is no mention of Jesus in 126 historical texts he's studied of people, who lived during or after Jesus. He makes the ridiculous claim that since Jesus wasn't mentioned in those texts he didn't exist and was a "mythical figure." He ignores the gospels and other books of the New Testament and dismisses the mention of Jesus and the early Christians, which are mentioned in some ancient writings. He also ignores archaeological evidence from the early Christian communities, which clearly show that those ancient Christians believed Jesus was the "Anointed One, the Son of God and Savior, and were willing to be tortured and suffer death rather than deny Christ.
Blinded by ignorance, pride and an anti-Christian agenda, he doesn't value the opinion of the majority of scholars and historians who are in "unanimous agreement that a Jewish man named Jesus did live in the early 1st century and was crucified by Pontius Pilate." (Simon Edwards-Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics).
It seems that Mr. Paulkovich, believes that he knows better and is smarter than all those scholars and historians and the early Christian witnesses, the apostles and the martyrs who were willing to give up their lives for Jesus. And millions of Christians who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, to this day, through prayer and worship. (Two billion Christian believers in the world and growing.)And all the great saints............and the writings of the Church Fathers and Doctors of the Church and all the brilliant biblical scholars and writers..........over the last 2,000 years......
In an article published by "Christian Today," which I read online, titled "New Book Claiming Jesus Did Not Exist Dismissed By Historians", the following is stated and well put,
"Biblical scholars Gary Habermas and Michael Licona have analyzed over 3,400 hundred scholarly works and articles that have been written on the historical claims surrounding Jesus' life since 1975, so as to determine the minimal facts of history that all serious historians agree on, Edward explains....Their work demonstrates that virtually every serious historian, whether Christian, atheist, agnostic, or otherwise acknowledges the following three minimal facts about Jesus Christ-1-He died by crucifixion, 2-that his disciples genuinely believed that Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to them on a number of occasions and 3-the early Church exploded in numbers soon after Jesus' death."

Check out the great article written by Carey Lodge that I quoted from in "Christian Today." It's an article well worth reading.

"Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God."  (John 1:34)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Fr. Cedric Pisegna Returns To Long Island To Preach

Fr. Cedric Pisegna, C.P., Passionist priest, preacher and television personality returned to Long Island to St. Aiden's parish in Williston Park, for a parish mission this week.  I attended the first night and Fr. Cedric was uplifting, upbeat and inspiring. He has a natural style, he's easy to listen to and he instills hope. What's better than that! Sadly,  he shared that his mother recently died (about 6 weeks ago) and he was still grieving. He's received a lot of condolences and support which he was grateful for.
It was an evening filled with good music and good preaching, with a few jokes thrown in.
His TV show, "Live With Passion," will have new episodes coming out and you can see his show on Telecare and other local stations. He's hoping that EWTN picks up his show as they are considering it.
His talk on Monday evening centered on overcoming obstacles. He said that challenges in life make champions. "If God is for us, who can be against us?" ......"We are more than conquerors through Christ who loves us!" He spoke about courageous people such as Helen Keller who overcame great obstacles and limitations and did great things because she persevered and kept going. He said, "Focus on what you can do, don't focus on what you can't do."
He mentioned Robin Roberts book which he recently read, "Everybody's Got Something." He quoted her, "Being optimistic is like a muscle, you have to use it, to strengthen it."
Fr. Cedric also said, "Live passionately, with enthusiasm and push on. Passion is energy, it's enthusiasm."
He himself is a product of his own positive thinking, his great faith in God and his openness to the urgings of the Holy Spirit. What he preached that night is what has worked in his own ministry and life and he keeps bearing great fruit for the Lord and the Church. And he's helping God's people as well.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Retreat From Marriage for Young Adults-No Surprise to Me!

In an article which appeared in today's New York Times titled, "Financial Security Is Increasingly Trumping Marriage, Report Says," by Claire Miller it states that "Twenty percent of adults older than 25, about 42 million people have never married, up from 9 percent in 1960 according to data in a Pew Research Center report." I know about this trend firsthand as I have two young adult sons, who I'm praying will marry soon. Of course, I want them to be happy and find the right person, to enjoy their future with. Thankfully they both have wonderful girlfriends who I am fond of, but whether it's fear of commitment or the need to be financially secure, or the cost of getting married, which is exorbitant in NY or all of the above, I'm waiting patiently for the day at least one of them tells me they're getting engaged. After all, I want grandchildren to spoil and love while I'm still young enough to enjoy them. Perhaps I want them to get married for selfish reasons but I do believe that marriage provides a stable environment, when filled with love, care and companionship and I want that for my sons.
My friends tell me to be more patient and they'll get married when they're ready but I'm one of those mothers who are a part of the above statistic who wants to see my sons married, sooner than later.
Apparently many young adults say (according to the article) they haven't married yet because they are not financially prepared. Marriage was once "a stepping stone to economic stability," now young adults want to be financially secure first which is difficult in this economic climate. In New York City the cost of renting or owning a property have reached ridiculous and unrealistic levels. One bedroom apartments in trendy NYC neighborhoods are selling for over $400,000 and sometimes much more than that. And rents are soaring too.
So I'll just keep praying that my sons get married in the next couple of years, so I can one day experience the joy of having grandchildren.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Newly Ordained Priests of Rockville Centre-Celebrating at The Seminary of the Immaculate Conception, NY-2014

On a warm summer evening in September, on the vigil of Mary's birthday,  the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, NY held a special event called, "Celebrate the Newly Ordained." The newly ordained priests of the Diocese of Rockville Centre (six in total) were honored with a dinner in the beautiful Rose Garden. Before the dinner,  Vespers were held in the glorious chapel.   Also honored this evening was retired Monsignor Thomas Colgan, who was praised by many, especially Bishop William Murphy who led the Vesper service. Msgr. Colgan was awarded the inaugural Immaculate Conception Medal. He was very grateful.
It was truly a beautiful evening and the rector, Msgr. Richard Henning, along with the Director of Development-Beverly Malone always makes sure everything is just perfect. And so it was....just a few pictures below........Do you recognize anyone you know? Below is newly ordained Fr. David and Fr. Daniel. Also Fr. James is pictured with his mother (3rd picture). Fr. Nick Zientarski, currently the Dean of Seminarians and Professor at St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers is in the 4th picture. The newly ordained were given gifts of kneelers as shown. Fr. Tom is shown being very helpful and serving food in the 6th photo. If you look close enough you can see a picture of the rector, Msgr. Henning and Bishop Murphy. The last picture shows the glory of God, ever present if only you have eyes to see.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Are Physicists Looking for God? (At Least Some of Them!)

Some physicists think the universe is actually a two dimensional hologram instead of three dimensions as we believe now.  They're  doing all kinds of academic and scientific experiments using a sensitive device called a holometer trying to decipher whether "space time is a quantum system just like matter is." I'm not comfortable writing about science since its not my area of expertise but I've thought for sometime now that physicists might one day be able to figure out the actual dimensions that exist in the universe and I don't think they are two but more than three. I believe that God exists in another dimension along with heaven. That's just my belief and it makes perfect sense to me. Anyhow,  it makes me nervous to think that someday physicists might stumble onto that (the God dimension) and then what?  God will have to figure that out or maybe God already has. Crazy that I should even think about such things.......
I found a very interesting quote from a Huffington Post article (which started me thinking about this again) titled, "Freaky Physics Experiment May Prove Our Universe is a Two-Dimensional Hologram." The article quotes  Dr. Aaron Chou,  who is the experiments lead scientist and project manager for the Holometer. This is the quote, "I have always believed that if indeed there is a creator, then the mechanism by which the world was created is not necessarily unknowable and if we delve deeply enough we might reach some very interesting and inescapable conclusions..........This topic brings up all sorts of interesting philosophical and theological questions......."
I'd say..... and I'd also say that it seems to me that Dr. Chou is looking for some theological answers with his Holometer.
Dr. Chou are you looking for God? Are you looking for the Creator? Because God does exist and God is very, very smart,  (obviously) so I don't think this dimensional thing can be figured out, even with a Holometer (whatever that is).  But who knows.... wouldn't it be amazing if its the physicists who someday state that it seems certain an intelligent Creator created the Universe because there is simply too much intelligent design, accuracy, diversity and exact mathematical calculations for it to be an accident.  I'd like to see that day.........

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Fr. James Martin's Incredible Book- "Jesus-A Pilgrimage"

The Bible study class in my parish, that I attend, usually meets throughout the year except for the summer months. This summer some of us in that class decided to meet during the summer to read uplifting, spiritual books and discuss them once a week.  The first book that someone suggested was not that uplifting but it was fascinating. I had never heard of it until the group mentioned it and it was written by a rabbi who happens to be a Messianic Jew (he believes in Jesus as Messiah). The book is a best seller and it is quite intriguing.  The book is "The Harbinger" by Jonathan Cahn.
The next book we read was Scott Hahn's masterpiece, "The Lamb's Supper-The Mass as Heaven on Earth." It should be required reading for all Catholic high school students and RCIA participants. We recommended it for everyone in the parish to read though I'm not sure how many actually did.
The final book is a large one and it took us over five weeks to read but it is a truly amazing work and a great book. I highly recommend it. It's Fr. James Martin's "Jesus-A Pilgrimage." We are on the final 100 pages which we will complete discussing next Monday.
I've been reading religious, spiritual books my whole adult life (I've been on this journey a long time). But Fr. James' book is special, he pulls from so many good sources in his reflections and analysis. The book tells of his experiences as he makes a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with his priest-friend George. As a Jesuit, Fr. James shares a lot of his own experiences and thoughts as well as other Scripture scholars that he has either read or studied with.  It's easy reading though the pilgrimage covers the serious subject and experiences of Jesus' life, his travels throughout the Holy Land, (his hidden life as well as his public ministry), his preaching, his relationship with his apostles and disciples and of course his intimate relationship with His Father.
The book is very good.  If you get a chance to read it, don't rush through it. I'm now reading what is for me the most difficult part of Jesus' life to read about and that is the end of his life and his tragic and painful death. It is not easy for me to think about it and reflect upon it.
Fr. Martin is a great writer and all the praying he did in the Holy Land while taking notes for the book, seems to have paid off.  His prayerfulness comes through the work.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Robin Williams Senseless Death-The Devil's "Hand" In It

It's hard to imagine how someone as talented, admired, successful and loved as Robin Williams was could take their own life in suicide. Just the other morning the serious topic of depression came up in a summer book club, that I'm a part of, at my parish.  We are reading the great book by Fr. James Martin, "Jesus-A Pilgrimage," and the topic of depression came up by one of the participants.  I responded that a severely depressed person has to seek professional help because depression can lead to suicide. I've read that and unfortunately it happens a lot.
Apparently from an article I read, Robin Williams' was at high risk for suicide because of his age,  and that he suffered from chronic depression and substance abuse. His wife recently admitted that he also had the early signs of Parkinson's Disease. But still you wonder why no one saw it coming and tried to get him the help he needed.
They say he was a comic genius. Genius in human beings can work both ways, it can make you incredibly creative but it is a two-edged sword. It can also make you depressed and cause you to suffer from highs and lows.
According to data, many suicides take place at night. Doctors should insist that depressed people who admit to having suicidal thoughts take a sleeping pill or anti-anxiety medicine which promotes sleep if any negative thoughts come into their mind. Things always look more hopeful in the morning. That should be reinforced over and over again in therapy and counseling.
Just tragic how his life could have ended so bleakly. He was a generous, gifted actor and he had a lot to live for. Life is precious, every life and it's so sad that people are in such pain, that they take their own life.
I'm convinced that people who suffer from depression are targets for the devil. The devil preys on disturbed and confused minds. I know there are people, especially most professionals, who would not agree and think that's ridiculous but I think it's the truth.
May Robin Williams rest in peace and may his family be given the peace and respect they deserve at this time.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Why Is Experimental Serum for Ebola Being Withheld From Sick People Who Need It?

The deadly outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa is the deadliest one in history. There is a lot of misinformation and confusion about this scary disease in West Africa and elsewhere. But there are a lot of questions and I have quite a few.
 Life is precious, all life is precious, I would hope we can all agree on that. There must be other doses of the experimental serum that helps treat people who are infected with the deadly Ebola virus.  The experimental serum that was given to Dr. Kent Brantley and Nancy Writebol seems to have worked. It has also been effective in trials with infected animals, in a laboratory, who were given the serum. The sooner it is given after a person (or animal) shows symptoms the greater chance they will survive the deadly disease. There must be doses of this experimental serum, (ZMapp) somewhere, and yet they are being withheld. I can't understand this.  According to CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, within 24 hours of Dr. Brantley being given the serum, he started to show signs of improvement. Nancy Whitebol took a little longer but she is also improving. They were given the serum in Africa, before they were flown to America. One company, whose stock was soaring on Friday, Tekmira pharmaceuticals,  is developing a vaccine and/or serum to fight Ebola. They must have some serum that is available. (I just read they have a very limited supply of their experimental medicine.)The experimental serum is very promising so what's holding up the distribution and manufacture of it? After all, it's an international health crisis. People are dying, children are sick and yet where is the serum? Is it because more testing is needed, its not conclusive? Do you think people who are dying are going to care about side effects or exhaustive trial studies?  Or does it have to do with cost?
 Even if there are 50 doses of this serum available, why not give it to 50 sick people? Children? Who is holding this up? And why isn't the process to manufacture more of this serum being expedited?  (According to a New York Times article I just read from Sat. Aug. 9th, "There are virtually no remaining supplies of the drug....... And in a few months there will only be a few hundred doses"......I find it hard to believe).
From what I've read all the medical trials and experiments on infected animals in the laboratory, so far have been promising. And also with human beings as I've written above. So what's holding up giving this serum to sick people?  Why isn't it being distributed to Doctors Without Borders (who do such great work in West Africa) for use? Or more importantly why not rush to manufacture additional doses to halt the epidemic and save lives and continue safety trials on the drug at the same time.
In one article I read about this deadly outbreak, the doctors and nurses who were treating dying patients said people dying from the virus had one last request. Most victims just wanted someone to hold their hand while they were dying. I felt so sorry for these poor people. More must be done and quickly.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Peace in the Holy Land?....Cure for Ebola?...Some Good News Lord..

On Tuesday, August 5th a 72 hour cease fire between Israel and and Hamas was agreed upon and went into effect, please Lord let it hold. Israeli ground forces have also been removed from Gaza, which is another hopeful sign. Let there be peace in that part of the world, we call Holy. Let the violence end and peace talks begin. There needs to be a lasting solution so that Israeli children and Palestinian children grow up in a peaceful world, where peaceful co-existence is achieved through negotiation and common sense solutions that work.  How hard can this be?
Please Lord, I pray that the experimental serum that was given to Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, both afflicted with that dreadful disease Ebola, will be the cure and it will be marketed as soon as possible. This process must be sped up. If people are dying and it seems to have worked on these two cases, what's the sense in waiting to help others. Who cares about side effects when without the serum, death is almost certain, especially in Africa.
I'm always amazed at selfless, compassionate people who risk their lives and travel to foreign countries and put themselves in danger to help others. Missionary work is truly a noble undertaking, as Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity as well as others, like Christian missionaries from all denominations, have showed us so often. They are truly heroes!  Their deep faith and their desire to make a difference is what brought Dr. Brantly and Nancy Whitebol to Africa.
So hopefully the summer news will improve, the Ebola outbreak in Africa will be brought under control, a cure will be found and better health facilities will be built in Africa and other third world countries because we are all interconnected.
The billionaries of the world (all wealthy people) have to step up and share their wealth, to improve conditions for everyone on this planet. The 85 richest people in the world who have a substantial amount of the world's wealth (according to a latest study), could really make an enormous difference. Of course many are already giving and  doing a lot through their foundations. But more has to be done.   Everyone deserves access to good health care, education, housing and nutritious food and peace, regardless of what part of the world they live in.  Isn't that what Jesus taught over and over again?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The World Unraveling?-_The Sad Summer of 2014-

It's hard not to get discouraged......there is so much negative news. Perhaps some of the only news that's hopeful is the news coming out of the Vatican, where photographs of Pope Francis sitting in a cafeteria eating casually with Vatican workers is uplifting for Catholics everywhere.  Those photos show a Pope who is trying (successfully) to be down-to-earth, Christ-like in his love for ordinary people, and with the people in their everyday lives. It was so good to see the photo of him doing just that on front page of the New York Times. Thank God for Pope Francis!
The other news coming from the Holy Land, from Africa, from the Ukraine and other parts of the world is disturbing. Record droughts in parts of the southwestern United States and elsewhere in the world, rising global temperatures, Ebola outbreaks, plane crashes, wars, violence against women, violence against animals in the wild (out of greed and ignorance), persecution of Christians, ......Almost sounds like the beginning of the end times.
But, of course, no one knows the day or hour when Christ will return in glory but the world is not in a good place right now.
Pope Francis is begging for peace, for an end to destructive wars that destroy homes and maim children and adults. It's absurd that at this time in human history, peace is so elusive for humankind. How difficult is it to solve the problems that keep people hating each other? Where are the solutions? God must be crying.
Pope Francis is begging for peace, "I beg you with all my heart...everything is lost with war."
I know..... "Hope is not an option for a Christian, it is essential to our faith," but sometimes the current news is just so disturbing. But Pope Francis is a light for our times.

Scary News
Ebola kills senior Doctor in Liberia-So sad such a selfless human being.........

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sad Summer News of War and Missile Attack on Malaysian Flight 17

I feel for others, that's called compassion and I have  great compassion for people who suffer because of war, displacement from war and other tragedies. I read and watch too much news as I like to be informed, but most news is disturbing. The news is sad right now because of what's happening in the Middle East between the Israeli's and the Palestinians. How is it that a lasting peace in the Holy Land is so elusive and difficult for those involved? It's tragic. It all started this time,  with the murder of three young Israelis in a heartbreaking story and now it just keeps escalating. Murder brings death, a breaking of the commandments of God and chaos comes forth from that. That's why God warns us to keep the commandments because when a commandment is broken, chaos breaks out.
Then last Thursday the awful news about the civilian airliner, Malaysia Flight 17, shot down by a missile apparently shot by separatists, fighting a civil war in Ukraine. How is it that they had such a destructive weapon that could bring down an airliner filled with innocent people and so many children? Why were planes allowed to fly in that airspace anyway, when several other transport planes had been shot down in that area days before? And even if those who shot that missile thought it was another type of plane, which I'm sure they did,  its still no excuse to shoot a powerful, destructive weapon without knowing for sure what type of airliner it would hit. It's inexcusable, its stupid and it's caused much pain to families of those who lost loved ones. And those poor souls, who were on that plane,  whose lives were cut short, who deserved better, unfortunately, no amount of investigation can bring them back. Christians believe in Heaven, a place of eternal peace and rest, where there is no war or pain but many of those on Flight 17 were too young, and had too much to live for. It's not fair what happened to them.

Praying for those who suffer from war or the effects of war seems like its not enough but its all people of faith can do. Humankind just wants to keep repeating the mistakes of the past. Too many choose to ignore God's commandments and those actions just keep bringing chaos into the world.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Drought Is Serious-Wake-Up Californians!

When I read about the extreme drought covering most of California, which is most likely caused by climate change, I wonder how the people of California are coping with the problem. When I read  on Thursday, an editorial in the New York Times titled "Saving Water in California," I'm amazed that people aren't taking the situation more seriously.
I've been to the West Coast a couple of times and I marveled at it's beauty but I sensed when I visited that there was definitely a more laid back attitude then what I've been exposed to on the East Coast, where I've lived all my life. There's nothing wrong with being more relaxed,  but you would think that when a serious situation arises Californians would act wisely and prudently.  But that's not what the statistics show.
This is what the editorial stated, "California is in the third year of its worst drought in decades. But you wouldn't know it by looking at how much water the state's residents and businesses are  using. According to a recent survey, Californians cut the amount of water they used in the first five months of the year by just 5 percent, far short of the 20 percent reduction Gov. Jerry Brown called for in January. In some parts of the state, like the San Diego area, water use actually increased in 2013...."
What are these people thinking? In one article I read, a women was quoted as saying she was more afraid of earthquakes then water running out. (I would be concerned with both!)
Sounds like the deadly sin of pride to me. Lots of pride can be a dangerous thing. It clouds good judgment which is why it can prove to be deadly.
Tampa, Florida has the largest desalination plant and sounds to me like California needs one too. (Sooner than later.)
We all need to be more humble, do our part when a crisis arises and think of the common good.
But that deadly sin of pride can get in the way....Thinking like, "We can take care of anything, even droughts"........hope so.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Art, Religion and Favorites from the Met

I love my Catholic faith, I also love art. So yesterday I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to view their incredible collection of Greek and Roman artifacts in their classical collection. I also wanted to see the Mary Cassatt oil paintings they have, as I recently heard a lecture about her work and her friendship with Edgar Degas. It was fascinating.  I also paid a visit to my favorite place in the museum, the Carroll and Milton Petrie European Sculpture Court.
The following painting of Joan of Arc is truly beautiful by Jules Bastien-Lepage

And there are so many religious works at the museum 
And then there is this great sculpture, one among many
The New American Wing has the work of
so many great American artists like this American landscape. One can never be bored in NYC.....a truly stimulating place to live or live nearby.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Bishop Frank Caggiano's Retreat for "Rosary for Life"

I attended a retreat day given by Bishop Frank Caggiano (Bishop of Bridgeport) for "Rosary for Life" on Saturday at Good Shepherd Parish in Marine Park, Brooklyn. Bishop Frank was born and raised just a few miles from Good Shepherd Parish,  he is a native Brooklynite.  It was a good day for Brooklyn. At the other end of Brooklyn 13 men were ordained to the priesthood in the newly consecrated Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph, which is located in the Prospect Heights neighborhood.  During Mass, at the retreat,  which was celebrated by Bishop Frank, we prayed for the newly ordained. Good things were happening all over Brooklyn on June 28th, the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary!
 The Rosary for Life retreat was organized by Wyn Powers and when I read about it in The Tablet, I called to register. I know that Bishop Frank is an excellent speaker and I was eager to hear his talks.
There were about 100 participants and we were not disappointed. A highlight of the day was when Bishop Frank shared with us a special gift he was given that day, by a very generous lady, Gail Frohlinger. It was a magnificent needlepoint of his Coat of Arms. It was all done by hand with beads and she said that she said a prayer for him with each bead that was put on the work. Quite amazing! I regretted afterwards not taking a picture of him holding it, which others did.
Bishop Frank talked about "The Joy of the Gospel," and how true joy comes from knowing Jesus. Faith of course is a divine gift but it is our response that is so important. He quoted from a Scripture and we discussed its importance-Revelation 3:20. " Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door then I will enter his house and dine with him and he with me." Bishop said that he thought that verse was the key to the door of faith. We also spoke about the problems in the modern world which interfer with faith, such as secularism, busyness, technology and other distractions. One man shared that he was discouraged by it all. But in responding most of us said, the Bishop included,  that we have to have hope for the future. I raised my hand and shared one of my favorite quotes on faith, "Hope is not an option for a Christian but it is essential to our faith."
It was a spirit-filled day, all over Brooklyn, one filled with hope and God's abundant blessings. NJA

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Chen Guangbiao-Philantropist Trying To Do Good

Chen Guangbiao, a very rich Chinese philanthropist, who some call eccentric, treated 200 homeless people to a fancy lunch today in a Central Park restaurant in  New York City.  A man of humble beginnings Chen amassed his wealth through hard work and perseverance (and a recycling business) and he's trying to give back.
Whatever his motives are, I think he's doing a good thing. Apparently there will be more luncheons in the future.
Craig Mayes, the executive director of the shelter where the participants live (the NYC Rescue Mission), said, "Our thought was if someone wants to treat them to an amazing event-something they would never experience on their own, maybe even a kernel of hope that life could be different again, we're in for that reason."
I think Chen has brought attention to the homeless people, who desperately need hope and change. I applaud his action and I think it will get people thinking and acting. There are certainly a lot of very rich people in NYC (in the entire tri-state area) and they can do more (though most are very charitable, they could do more).
Yesterday I participated in a reading program for young, disadvantaged children and I saw firsthand how important a hands-on approach to helping others is. It's easy to write a check to a charity, but not as easy to put the effort into actually doing something and putting in the time,  that makes a difference in someones life.
It's Christ's mandate to help the least of our brothers and sisters and the more we do that, the more we act like Christ and we help to bring forth the Reign of God.

"Whatever you do for one of the least of my brothers, you did it for me"  spoken by Jesus (Mt. 25:40)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Some Of My Favorite Art Work

I love visiting museums and living in New York makes it easy to view world class art at anytime. My favorite museum is the Met, the Metropolitan Museum of Art. But every museum has it's own character and gems. I have some art on my phone which I photographed, none of which actually came from the Met, this time, but I'll share some of my favorite ones from places near and far.  Some come from Churches/Seminary in the NY area as well as the Museum of Modern Art, the Nassau County Museum of Art and some from a visit to Miami, Florida, like the first two below which are from the Perez Art Museum in Miami. God is creative, God has a creative spirit, and when human beings tap into that, beauty can abound. (One photo is not from a museum or church, can you guess?)
So here they are:

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Seminary of the Immaculate Conception, Huntington-Garden Tour

One of the many things I do is to support the Seminarians studying in Dunwoodie, at St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers.  The organization I belong to that helps the Seminarians through our prayers and fundraising also helps the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, Long Island which is now a learning and retreat center. In any event, I belong to the "Friends of the Seminary" a volunteer group of men and women who have been in existence for 25 years. I joined them about 8 years ago. My term as "President" just ended but I am still involved and love going to the Seminary in Huntington since it is such a beautiful, peaceful and spiritual place.  I love the chapel it is magnificent.
Yesterday we held a Garden Tour and Luncheon which we've done for the past three years.  Three homeowners in the area gave us permission to have "friends" tour their beautiful gardens and then everyone (over 140 people) went to the Seminary to see the beautiful rose garden and then have lunch and fun as there were raffles and auctions
Everyone had a great time. Msgr. Richard Henning, the rector was there to offer thanks and lead us in prayer.
Here are some pictures from the day: I'm not in any picture in case you're wondering...just friends.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Pope Francis Wants Peace, God Wants Peace in the World! Do Those Involved Try Hard Enough?

Pope Francis, acting as a peacemaker,  held a prayer summit in the Vatican Gardens today on the Feast of Pentecost. He brought together Isreali President Shimon Perez and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the spirit of hope, prayer and respect. Having the prayer summit on the feast of Pentecost is bringing the God of peace and reconciliation into the prayer event in a powerful way. But are hearts and minds open to the will of God and open to negotiation? That's the key.
Unless we are open to the will of God and willing to think out of the box, then peace in the Middle East will always remain elusive. But if all parties are willing to be open, to compromise and be mindful that we are all God's children, then negotiations can move forward.
Pope Francis told the two men that he hoped the prayer summit would be a "new journey for peace."
From his mouth to God's ears! He told them that too  many children had been killed because of war and violence. So many scars, both physical and psychological.
I went to the noon Mass today and our pastor spoke about the prayer summit in his homily. He asked us to pray for its success and be mindful that it would be taking place at 1:00 PM Eastern Time. And so we prayed and I continued to pray as I left Church.
If only, through some miracle on the Feast of Pentecost, hearts will be softened, new ideas thought of and gestures of peace made, to finally bring peace to that troubled, holy land.

Prayer has a political strength that we maybe don't even realize and should be exploited to the full....Prayer has the ability to transform hearts and thus to transform history. 
(Cardinal Pietro Parolin-Vatican Secretary of State--quoted at the end of the Middle East trip)

Please God may prayer transform the hearts of those who can really make a difference and bring peace to the Holy Land!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Pope Francis in the Holy Land-Bringing Hope Through Words, Gestures, Prayers and an Invitation

When I watched the video of Pope Francis in the Holy Land leaving his vehicle to pray at the concrete wall that separates Bethlehem from Jerusalem, I was deeply moved.  That gesture took courage, boldness and deep faith. It's a powerful image seeing the Pope praying against that graffiti-filled wall that divides and inflames feelings. It's an historic image.
As if that wasn't enough of an amazing gesture, the Pope invited to a prayer summit, at the Vatican, both the Israeli President Shimon Peres and the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Both accepted the invitation which will take place in June.  Who knows what miracle can come of this? Perhaps what man has been unable to do, in bringing peace to this troubled land, God can accomplish, through joint prayer.  It's a start, a beginning that is desperately needed.  With prayer and openness to the will of God,  perhaps a process to bring a peaceful, negotiated, just settlement  to that region of the world will begin again.
I hope and I imagine it will happen that the Pope will ask people all over the world to pray at the time of the prayer summit. Prayers from the people of the world's three major world religions, all praying at once for peace, that would be a miracle in itself.
This is a Pope full of surprises who is not afraid to be himself, to stand up for what he believes is right and he just keeps winning more and more respect.
What a gift during the Easter Season!

...The Upper Room reminds us of friendship. 'No longer do I call you servants, (Jesus said to the Twelve), but I have called you friends' (John 15:15). The Lord makes us His friends, he reveals God's will to us and he gives us his very self........(Pope Francis-Upper Room-Jerusalem-5/26) 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Twenty-Three Priests of Rockville Centre Diocese Send Bold Letter To the Pope

In an interesting and somewhat puzzling article I read in NY Newsday titled, "Choosing Long Island's Next Bishop," by Bob Keeler apparently 23 priests of the Diocese of Rockville Centre have signed and sent a letter to Pope Francis (with a copy to Bishop Murphy) asking how the priests can have "concrete guidance about how we and others here can meaningfully participate" in helping to choose Bishop Murphy's successor when he retires. Next year Bishop Murphy will reach the retirement age of 75, at which time he will submit his retirement letter to the Pope.
Firstly I don't understand why the priests didn't wait until next year. Seems like they are rushing things a bit, and perhaps I don't get it but I do think it's a little disrespectful to Bishop Murphy, but that's just my opinion.
I think the idea that priests, nuns and laypeople of a Diocese can offer suggestions as to the state of the Diocese and potential bishops who would be a good fit, is worthy of consideration, but timing is everything. It seems like the timing is off on this letter.
In the letter it stated, "We're looking to understand how the process works and how, not just us priests, how other groups in the diocese, like sisters and lay people, can insert themselves in the process."
Since Pope Francis might not accept the Bishop's retirement immediately, which has happened in other Dioceses' in the past, the letter seems premature. But to each his own.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Senator Rubio--How Can You Deny Human Activity Is Tied To Global Warming?

I don't mean this post to be political. This is not a political statement.  I am an environmentalist who cares about God's beautiful creation and hopes humankind has enough sense to protect it, before things spiral out of control As reported in the news, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida on Sunday in an interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC said that he doesn't believe that human activity is causing the dramatic changes to the climate as climate scientists are suggesting. I find that baffling. There is so much scientific evidence that global warming is caused by human activity and that the situation is worsening.
What I think Senator Rubio should do (and I don't mean any disrespect) is to turn on his TV, like I just did. I saw horrific and frightening images of wildfires across Southern California which is also in a severe drought. They have had unusual record breaking heat for the last week and combined with severe drought and wind, wildfires are spreading, destroying homes and businesses.
Scientists keep saying that global warming will create droughts in some places and heavy downpours and rainstorms in others. That's happening already, not in some distant future, but now.
People who are standing in front of their burned out homes, who are confronting severe drought and record high temperatures are standing in the future and the future has come upon them, in an apocalyptic-type scenario.
All politicians and all business leaders must confront that global warming is real and everyone must do their part, because no one is going to flee the disastrous effects of global warming, once the scale is tipped.
Senator Rubio said that "I do not believe that the laws that they propose we pass will do anything about it, except it will destroy our economy."
Well I think the drought in California, where so much produce is grown could threaten our economy as food prices rise.
I think what could destroy our economy is wildfires, drought, floods, water restrictions, high food prices and rising sea levels which will effect coastal areas.
But I'm not an economist, just someone who reads a lot and pays attention to the signs of the times. I also respect intelligence and if the majority of climate scientists say that action is needed and soon, I believe them. I turn on my TV and I see homes up in flames and I see what the scientists have been predicting becoming a reality in real time. How can you deny what is already in front of our eyes?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Fr. Cedric Pisegna, C.P. Preacher-Like Style

I went to Cure of Ars Church in Merrick, LI for the past two evenings to hear Fr. Cedric Pisegna, C.P., speak during a Parish Mission.  I've also seen his program on Telecare-"Live With Passion." Fr. Cedric is an excellent speaker, he connects with the congregation or audience and has a preacher like style. He travels throughout the U.S. and Canada giving Parish Missions and if he comes to a parish near you, I suggest you go.
He has written 17 books and on Monday evening he sold over $2,000 worth of books. He said that he uses the money from the sale of his books to help his TV ministry. There was also a collection which was for his Passionist community and their works in Houston, Texas. Fr. Cedric has a likable personality and he tells some funny jokes.  He has a good message and some catchy phrases that are easy to remember such as -"Trust is a must," Doubt your doubts," and "We inherit the promise through faith and patience." He also spoke about the Divine Mercy and had us repeat a few times, "Jesus I trust in you." Such powerful words.
He also talks about believing in yourself, never giving up and about not giving up on your dreams.  He's like a Catholic priest version of Joel Osteen.
The adoration chapel in Cure of Ars is just beautiful and I spent sometime in the chapel admiring it's beauty and the peace within.
Fr. Cedric was signing books on Monday night and talking to participants and I went up to him and spoke for a few minutes. I suggested to him (as if he's not doing enough already!) that he should consider helping priests become better speakers and perhaps he should work with Fr. Robert Barron on an endeavor to help priests prepare more engaging homilies.
He said he had been thinking about it and I hope he does some work in the future with priests, I think it would be helpful to them. (It wasn't until the next day that I realized that St. John Vianney is the patron saint of priests, so perhaps he put me up to the suggestion!)
He will be returning to Long Island in a few months and I hope to go again to his parish mission. He's worth listening to.

"You have to endure. Don't give up on your dreams"  Fr. Cedric

UPDATE: Fr. Cedric sent a thank you note to the parish of Cure of Ars, which was published in their bulletin. I've taken the liberty to print some of it here. It said the following:
I want to thank all of you who attended the mission I preached.....On behalf of my Passionist community thank you for the $6,500 that was so generously donated to us.  Also you bought $10,000 worth of my resources....Thank you from the bottom of my heart." Fr. Cedric
(That is truly amazing and goes to show that when people's hearts are touched and they are given Christian truth with love and enthusiasm, they respond generously and appreciatively! )

Monday, April 28, 2014

Pope Francis' Inequality Tweet-And the Housing Crisis in NYC

On Monday, Pope Francis tweeted the following, "Inequality is the root of social evil." It was retweeted over 10,000 times by the afternoon. Some think the Pope may have read or heard about Thomas Piketty's best selling book about capitalism titled, "Capital in the Twenty-First Century?"
There happens to be an interesting article on Huffington Post about what's happened to NYC real estate over the last decade. Recently it reached the absurd point.  One bedroom apartments in trendy NYC neighborhoods are selling for $500,000 -$800,000, that's for one bedroom.  The article at HuffPost Business titled, "NYC Is Even More Unaffordable Than You Think In 6 Charts," reports about the rents in NYC which have skyrocketed over the last decade, along with prices for homes and apartments while incomes have remained stagnant  or fallen.
I know about this firsthand. I hear about the frustrations that young people in NYC are facing as well as others, from my sons, whose friends have the same problem they have. Everything is too expensive and overpriced and whatever comes on the market, if someone is looking to buy, is difficult to purchase because sellers get multiple offers. The whole situation is absurd and frustrating. It's so sad because the middle class is being pushed out of New York. The poor are in an even worse situation and there doesn't seem to be any solution.
The artists, writers and artistic communities which add to the cultural interest and vitality of NYC can't afford Manhattan, parts of Brooklyn such as Williamsburg and Bushwick and trendy areas of Queens anymore, unless they're rich and famous.
Unless more affordable housing is built, the cultural and ethnic diversity that makes NYC great will be greatly affected and harmed.
Young people continue to find NYC a great place to live, and they're still moving here, but unless they have rich parents or grandparents or a trust fund, there aren't too many options. Or they try to find a neighborhood alittle further into the boroughs, that's not on everyone's radar yet.
I think greed, besides being a deadly sin,  is the root of social evil. And if you dig deep enough you'll find that greed is a part of the problem.
I still believe in capitalism, and America is still the greatest country in the world, in my opinion.
But something has to be done to improve the housing situation in America's popular cities. I'm not sure how it can be fixed but something is very broken when rents and prices of apartments and homes are unaffordable for most of the population, except for the rich.

"NYC has gotten less affordable much faster than the rest of the U.S."
"Brooklyn had it the worst. Rents rose there more than any other borough."

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Easter Blessings-2014

Happy Blessed Easter! May the good Lord Jesus, our Heavenly Father and the powerful Holy Spirit bless us all on Easter Sunday and during the Easter Season.  Now I'm tired from cooking and preparing for Easter dinner with the family, but it will be such a happy day, so much to celebrate: the Risen Lord, a family celebration, the Easter egg hunt, chocolate bunnies, the much awaited Spring, the magnificent flowers, so many blessings to come. A feast for the senses and I can't wait.
It's been a long winter, too long. But I've started to plant pansies and soon I will plant herbs and what can be better for my Italian sauce than fresh basil plucked from my backyard. Simple pleasures........
It's time to rejoice in all that is good for the mind, body and soul. Sunshine is good and a simple walk in the sunshine can lift your mood and help to brighten your day. I often walk and say the rosary, that works for me, walking and praying and looking around.
And so as Spring unfolds and all the beauty that comes with it, we can rejoice in the beauty of creation, the diversity of the natural world, the awareness of knowing our Savior, in having the ability to pray, to serve, to give and to have been called and having the awareness to respond to it.
Praise God! Alleluia!
A blessed Easter Season!

Easter spells out beauty, the rare beauty of new life.  (S.D. Gordon)

He is not here; He is risen!  (Luke 24:6)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Pope Francis on Palm Sunday-"Where Is My Heart?"

According to news reports, a tired looking Pope Francis addressed a crowd of over 100,000 people who were packed into St. Peter's Square for Palm Sunday Mass. The Pope challenged the crowd to look into their hearts to see how they are honestly living their lives.
He also challenged the large crowd (as well as himself) to ask themselves: "Who am I? Who am I before my Lord? Who am I before the Jesus who enters Jerusalem amid celebration? Am I able to express my joy and praise him? Or do I keep a distance? Who am I before the Jesus who suffers?"
I think that's a great question to ponder during Holy Week.  Who am I before the Jesus who suffers?
This morning at Mass I refused to be the crowd and play that part and respond, "Crucify Him." I just can't bring myself to identify with the crowd and call for Jesus' crucifixion. I can't say those words.
I could never identify with Judas, Pilate, the soldiers, the misguided religious leaders or the confused apostles.
But I can identify with the women. The women who suffered along with Jesus, who loved him, who were loyal to him, who stood by the Cross in disbelief. And so when Pope Francis asks us to contemplate during this holiest of weeks, "Where is my heart?" I can have some peace in answering that question. Thankfully, gratefully my heart is where it should be-loving Jesus and being grateful for the knowledge I've been given, for the opportunities I've had to share my knowledge and deep faith but most importantly for always knowing my heart, very clearly.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Malaysian Flight 370 At the Bottom of the Ocean? Intentional Or Catastrophe?

It's hard for me to believe that so much of the oceans on our planet are unmapped. We know more about the planet Mars and our Moon, than we know about the oceans. Since our planet is mostly made of water , it's difficult to understand why there is so little mapping of the ocean floor, especially with modern technology. I gather after this horrific mystery is finally solved, more will be done and changes will be made to ocean mapping as well as aviation tracking systems.
There has been endless commentary and opinions on CNN regarding the mysterious disappearance and presumed crash of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370.  I admit to watching a lot of the coverage, like others. I have even stayed up after midnight (though that's not unusual for me) to watch press conferences taking place in Australia at 12:00 noon.  CNN anchors, encourage viewers to "stay with us," as if it was 8:00 in the evening instead of 12:30 at night. At times I'm captivated by the mystery. Or perhaps I'm procrastinating (which I'm very good at), as I should be spending the time reviewing notes for a talk I have to give. Anyhow,  I find the commentary very interesting, especially when experts talk about theories, modern ocean technology and the probable cause. It's probably one of the greatest mysteries, certainly the greatest aviation mystery in my lifetime. I have always been intrigued by the Amelia Earhart mystery, which has never been solved.
I can't even imagine the suffering of the families since this has dragged on for over a month, with conflicting stories and false hopes. My heart goes out to them. And I pray for them.
In my opinion, after listening to the experts, I think that someone hijacked that plane, either a crew member or someone else. Someone was trying to make it disappear and if it wasn't for modern technology they would have succeeded.  According to the latest accounts and new information regarding the pings, that plane, sadly is at the bottom of the Indian Ocean. It's hard to believe that no debris has been found, this is a very large airplane. So strange.
I see the devil's "hand" in this. Evil thoughts, nefarious actions, the killing of innocent people and children, who else can be behind this horrific mystery, but evil?

Sunday, March 30, 2014

What If Jesus Showed Up?

I'm a little tired now after giving a Day of Reflection along with a leader from the Diocese of Brooklyn. I  presented to the English speaking laypeople and my friend was the presenter for the Spanish speaking laypeople, who are preparing to become lay leaders in the Church.
I'm still trying to process what happened today. We've given this very similar retreat day for many years to future lay ministers of the Church for the Diocese of Brooklyn. But today was different. I always tell people to be open to the movement of the Holy Spirit, to be receptive, at the beginning of the retreat day. We always start with a beautiful bi-lingual prayer service.  The retreat takes place in a diocesan building with a consecrated chapel, I guess the whole building is consecrated.   These are very good people who study hard and commit themselves to prayer and study for the Pastoral Institute program. They work hard for many years, the best of the best, they love the Church, they love God and they inspire us as much as we try to inspire them. And apparently they are very open and receptive to the movement of the Spirit in their lives.
I can't figure out why today was different but it was. It's always a very good experience for the participants and for the presenters.  But today,  a few of the participants said they had very strong feelings and  intuitions of Jesus.  After practicing the Holy Name of Jesus prayer or a guided meditation that we always do,  or while praying in the chapel, they had very vivid experiences of Jesus. I was truly amazed at what they shared.
It seems if you take them at their word and they were very serious and sincere, it appears to me that Jesus "showed up" today at the Day of Reflection.
I better go to sleep and finish processing this tomorrow, because I can't make sense of it right now. It was suppose to be an "ordinary" Day of Reflection" until it wasn't. I guess no day is really "ordinary" when you are a baptized Christian, and open to the Spirit.
NJA    (Just Quotes)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

"What Else Can Be More Important Than Human Lives?"

Nan Jinyan, the sister in law of Yan Ling, who was a passenger of missing Malaysian flight 370, was quoted as saying, "What else can be more important than human lives?" The sanctity of human life. The family members of that flight have suffered so much and until they have closure, the suffering will continue. It is so sad and I, like others are praying for them. Family members are exhausted, disillusioned with all the misinformation and conflicting stories surrounding the mysterious disappearance of this plane and who can blame them. They are going through torment,  something no one should ever have to deal with.
Whatever is ultimately the cause of this catastrophic aviation event, I hope in the future airlines will learn from this........
When I board a plane, I want to be assured that if it's an international flight, everyone has a proper passport. No one should ever be allowed, anywhere in the world, to get on an airplane with a stolen passport, or stolen ID.  That's outrageous in this day and age.
When I board a plane, I want to be assured that there is no cargo on that plane which is highly flammable such as lithium ion batteries. (There is so far no conclusive evidence that this caused a problem on flight 370, but it could have).
It's such a terrible tragedy and the tragedy and the mystery continues. The world watches and waits, but for the family members, their emotional lives are in turmoil and I feel for them.
May God Bless Them and give them closure soon and may this never happen again, may airlines and transportation safety boards learn from this.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Feeling Compassion For Those Suffering Families of Missing Malaysian Flight

I, like about 3 billion other people in the world are following the mysterious disappearance of Malaysian Flight MH370. People are intrigued by what will turn out to be the most puzzling aviation story of all time. Sadly this incident is historic in aviation history, perhaps even surpassing the mystery of Amelia Earhart's disappearance in 1937 over the Pacific Ocean.   I keep thinking how many of these historic, unprecedented yet sad incidents I have lived through during the many decades I have been alive. I feel so sad and so much compassion for the families of those who are missing on that flight. They must be suffering so much and I think about them and what they are having to endure. Human beings aren't meant to suffer so much anguish. It's just unfair. I especially am saddened by the thought of the children and infants on that plane, and the people who love them.
How anyone can board an airplane, anywhere in the world, in this day and age, with stolen passports is beyond comprehension? Especially when a database exists to track this. That is neglectful.
If it is either a hijacking by someone on board the plane or the pilots who are responsible for this horrific act, which the latest evidence seems to be pointing to, then one can't even fathom such corruption of the human mind and evil intent to plan and carry out such a heinous act.
I always think that God must suffer too, because of the evil in the world and the pain that causes.
I wish God would destroy evil once and for all.
I pray for the people on board that plane that they did not suffer and I pray that the families of those missing will have closure and the plane will be found. I also pray that in the future every country in the world has better security for airplanes, so this atrocity never happens again.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Atheists Crossing the Line-Again

Radical atheists once again are crossing the line of decency by filing a lawsuit to have a World War I memorial, the Bladensburg Peace Memorial in Maryland taken down because it is a 40 foot cross.
The cross has historic significance as it honors 49 residents of Prince George's county who died serving their country in World War I.  It was dedicated in 1925.
Apparently one of the plantiffs in the lawsuit gets upset everytime he drives by the memorial because it's a Christian symbol on public property. Give me a break. Veterans are quite upset about the lack of decency and civility that atheists/humanists are showing on this matter. The plantiff should be upset that he is causing controversy and dishonoring the veterans who live in the county and showing disrespect to the fallen soliders and their families.
Town administrator, John Moss said that the Bladensburg Cross has historic and patriotic significance for the county. But apparently that doesn't satisfy radical humanists who just want their way, even if their way hurts and upsets veterans and others. The county should sell the property to private individuals or a veterans group, so that the plantiff in the lawsuit won't have to get upset, once a month when he travels past the memorial.
Such sad nonsense. The Founding Fathers of our country must be "turning over in their graves," or at least upset.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Wacky Weather, Global Warming and the Sin of Pride

There are many people who deny global warming, even in the face of mounting evidence and climate scientists who state emphatically that global warming is not only a reality but it's dangerous to ignore.
I have no doubt that global warming is taking place, even though I live in the Northeast where we have been going through a bitter cold and snowy winter. The jet stream which affects weather patterns over North America and Northern Europe is undergoing a dramatic shift, which may mean harsher winters. There is no proof that it is related to global warming but it could be, since weather patterns are changing. "Temperatures in the Arctic have been rising two to three times faster than the rest of the planet" according to weather expert James Overland (see Mail Online-"Is The Jet Stream Changing Direction?")
I read a while ago that one of the effects of global warming is that some areas of the world will receive little rain and experience severe droughts and other parts will receive excessive rainfall. From what I read, it will seem in certain parts of the world as if the "door" to the Arctic was opened, which is what it felt like in NY for many weeks before the recent warming trend began. It was bitter cold for weeks and it was the worst winter I can remember.
Parts of England are experiencing record rainfalls and flooding, the pictures are sad.
Parts of southern California are experiencing historic droughts, which is affecting the farmers and may soon threaten water supplies.
And so, when will human beings wake up? When will they take responsibility for their actions and start adopting measures that will help the environment and lessen greenhouse gases?
The scientists say we are approaching a tipping point. A point at which the damage that has been caused so far will be irreversible.
Is it human pride or just plain foolishness? God created such a beautiful world and yet we continue to pollute it and destroy eco-systems, thinking that there will be no repercussions to selfishness, arrogance, and irresponsibility. No wonder pride is a deadly sin.
Christians must always remain hopeful so for the good news.... China and the United States, announced a plan to combat global warming together.  Let's pray their combined efforts, ideas and action plan works and encourages other countries to follow.

Pride is the primal sin and the most grave of all the sins, the spiritual rebellion that untuned the harmony of the Universe. Pride is also the most glamorous, pervasive, fatal and insidious of the sins.
(from "The Wisdom of the Saints" An Anthology-Jill Adels

The climate system is an angry "beast" and we are poking at it. (Dr. Wally Broecker)