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.)