Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Another Year To Celebrate God's Love and Mercy-2015 Coming To A Close

Another year has gone was a good year. Many blessings came our way. I am forever grateful for my relationship with God, for knowing God's love for me. I'm also grateful for this Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis.  I am very blessed to be on a vibrant, excited parish committee to plan events, lectures and gatherings to unpack all that God's mercy means and could be for God's people. Let's pray that there is an openness to knowing more and experiencing the grace of God's mercy, which is endless and so mysterious. God is so good and we are all so much in need of mercy. But that's obvious.
So a very Merry Christmas and a Happy, Blessed New Year!!

I was just reading a column in Brooklyn's Catholic newspaper, The Tablet, by Fr. Robert Lauder. I have been reading and enjoying Fr. Lauder's articles for many, many years. This is an interesting story about those articles, from which I've gleaned so much knowledge. Last winter I was in the  Airport Terminal waiting for a flight. My husband went to get coffee and I was sitting reading, while waiting......When I travel I bring with me reading material and some articles that I've cut out and brought along. I was reading an article by Fr. Lauder, while waiting for my husband to get back. When he returned, I put down the article and went to get myself tea.  It was early in the morning. As I walked to the food concession, I literally walked right by Fr. Lauder....So strange. I know Fr. Lauder from when I worked in Douglaston, so I stopped him and told him what had just happened. I said I just was reading your article and here you are!! He was impressed and said that he was going back to tell the other priests, who he was traveling with, that he just met one of his fans! Yes he did! One of God's coincidences.
So here is a quote from Fr. Lauder from his recent article, which I think is very good!

     "Another Christmas! How the years fly by! This special day in 2015 has taken on more of a global meaning for me because of Pope Francis' encyclical 'Laudato Si.' If I had to sum up the Holy Father's encyclical in one sentence, the sentence would be 'Everything is connected.' That statement is the prism through which I am contemplating and celebrating Christmas this year. The birth of Jesus changes everything. It both challenges us and comforts us. It makes all persons brothers and sisters, loved and redeemed by God." (Fr. Lauder-12/19/15-The Tablet)
Amen to all of that!
God's abundant Blessings,

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Symposium for the Year of Mercy in Huntington and Marian Festival

I spent yesterday, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, which was also the beginning of the Year of Mercy (as declared by Pope Francis) at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, Long Island. They held an Academic Symposium which was presented by St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers. Laypeople attended as well as priests and it appeared that all the seminarians from St. Joseph's came as well. They arrived and entered the refectory at lunchtime and it was impressive how many there were in attendance.
They had excellent speakers at the symposium and a variety of lectures were offered for participants. There were so many good choices that I wanted to be everywhere and listen to everyone so it was difficult to choose. I attended Fr. Kevin O'Reilly's (Academic Dean and Professor) talk, "Mary as the New Eve: 21st Century Perspectives on an Ancient Image" and Msgr. Peter Vaccari's (Rector of St. Joseph Seminary) lecture, "The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy, in the Jubilee Year of Mercy."
Both lectures were great. It was the first time I heard Fr. Kevin speak and it was very enlightening. Fr. Kevin pointed out all the parallels between Eve and Mary. So there are all these parallels in the Bible which I was fascinated to learn. For instance, as Fr. Kevin said, "Eve listened to the word of the serpent but Mary obeyed the word of God." Eve gave birth to sin, but Mary's nature was used to reverse Eve's sin and bring the Savior into the world.  Mary gives to Jesus his human nature and thereby reverses Eve's sin. Very intellectually stimulating. Fr. Kevin is an entertaining and knowledgeable speaker.
I mentioned at the end of the lecture that I find it fascinating that God seems to place in salvation history parallels as well as paradoxes, which you can find throughout the Bible and Bible figures.  I find that interesting. When I get to Heaven I'm going to ask God what is the fascination with parallel and paradox about.
Msgr. Peter Vaccari's talk was also excellent. I've heard Msgr. Vaccari speak before so I knew it would be good. He mentioned the papal document declaring the "Year of Mercy" and said it stated that "All salvation history attests to the Mercy of God" ...In Jesus, the Father's mercy is made known."
Mercy is always restorative. He mentioned that the Ark of the Covenant in the Temple in Jerusalem was for the ancient Israelites God's abiding presence with them. With the destruction of the Temple the Ark disappeared. For Christians, Mary becomes the new Ark of the Covenant. Mary becomes the new seat of mercy and she brings forth the Christ. He said we should keep our eyes fixed on the merciful gaze of Jesus.
It was a wonderful day and there was a lot of very fascinating information which I will continue to dwell upon. There is much more to this "Year of Mercy" that will have to be unpacked alittle at a time.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Be Thankful For Christ! The Beginning of Advent and Thanksgiving.....2015

As we approach the great feast of Thanksgiving as well as the beginning of Advent, we should be thankful for Christ, for the One who will ultimately bring fulfillment and completion to our fallen world. There is so much sad news and reasons for anxiety in the world and yet I just prepared a talk for Advent which gave me hope. The reason for my hope, after studying and delving into my religion books was the realization (the reminder) that Jesus who is the "Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end" will make it right, in God's time. I believe that.
Teihard de Chardin, the brilliant Jesuit theologian and scientist, wrote that the fulfillment of Christ "involves every fragment of creation from the Big Bang to the final culminating moment at the end of time, nothing left out." He referred to Christ as the Total Christ, the Cosmic Christ, the Universal Christ. So the Cosmic Christ is "pulling" all of creation to a future completion and fulfillment which we cannot see yet, so as Christians we should not get discouraged or give up hope. Our hope is in Christ.
St Paul had this cosmic sense of Christ when he wrote in the Letter to the Colossians, "He is the image of the invisible God, the first born of all creation. For in him were created all things in heaven and earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things and in him all things hold together...." (Col. 1: 15-17).
And so now that I have finished my talk on Advent, which I will deliver next week, I can think about making rice balls for Thanksgiving and getting the dinner right.
Happy Thanksgiving!
A Blessed Advent!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Many Norwegians Giving Up Beleif in God for Belief in Ghosts-Such A Sad State and Outcome of Secularism

 It seems ghosts are everywhere in Norway and they can even move things around in offices, at least that's what some Norwegians believe.
I  recently read in the New York Times an interesting article titled, "For Many Norwegians, Ghosts Fill A Void," by Andew Higgins. In what I thought was a fascinating article, the writer explains how many Norwegians have given up belief in God and replaced it with a fascination with ghosts.
As stated in the article, "Ghosts, or at least belief in them, have been around for centuries but they have now found a particularly strong following in highly secular modern countries like Norway....While churches here may be largely empty and belief in God, according to opinion polls in steady decline, belief in, or at least fascination with ghosts and spirits is surging....."
A Methodist preacher and professor at the Norwegian School of Theology in Oslo was quoted as saying, "God is out but spirits and ghosts are filling the vacuum" (Professor Fotland).

You can't make this stuff up! How sad for the people of Norway that so many have traded ghosts for belief in God. It's mind-boggling. How can this be? I can't fathom it. Could so many have been so poorly catechized that they could easily walk away from belief in God (and all the benefits that gives to human beings) and replace it with such superficiality? These people could not have had a relationship with the living God, with Jesus....impossible to just trade that for a belief in spirits. And what about all the repercussions of that, through future generations.
Religious rituals are good for human beings, they fill a void, they're sacred and beautiful and psychologists of all backgrounds can attest to the positive value they have for human beings, of all ages.  They offer comfort and security to the human soul and human consciousness.  Yet some people don't experience that or are not open to it. Or rebel against it.
 When you hear of such things in the modern world, you just know it's not a good development.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Hurricane Patricia and Other Sudden Scary Events-Who Is Prepared to Meet the Lord?

Are you prepared to meet the Lord? If today was the day you were to die and go to Heaven, could you look into the face of God knowing you fought the good fight against sin, evil and mediocrity?
A category 5 hurricane, the most ferocious there is, is bearing down on Mexico. Out of the blue, literally, as it was a tropical storm and then suddenly it grew to a monster hurricane. Climate scientists say that with global warming will come more powerful storms. We hope and pray for the people of Mexico. Hurricane Patricia is the most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere.
Then there is the recent warning that the Los Angeles, California area is overdue for a massive earthquake. According to news reports, "There is a 99.9 percent chance that the Los Angeles area will have a magnitude 5 or greater earthquake within the next  3 years." That's pretty scary.
So we just never know. My friend's sister who was suffering from cancer was told by her doctor she wouldn't live much longer. Well she lived another three years, and was able to be present at her son's wedding. We considered that an answer to prayer.  Strangely, that same doctor choked on a pretzel within that year and died. Very sad, but the reality is, we just never know when our day to meet the Lord will come
So be ready! Fight the good fight, resist sin and do a little more to help others, to forgive others and be merciful as God is merciful. It's not easy being a Christian, no less a good Christian but its worth trying a little harder each day to get it right.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Pope Francis Asks Forgiveness For Recent Scandals, As Only He Can

At the beginning of his General Audience at the Vatican, Pope Francis began by acknowledging the recent scandals at the Vatican and also in Rome and asked for forgiveness. He wasn't specific but he could have meant a few different things that have happened of late. There are so many troubles surrounding Pope Francis. I pray the Holy Spirit guides him and he is open to the movement of the Spirit.
Right outside the Pope's window, Rome itself is embroiled in controversy as the mayor of Rome resigned over a scandal involving his expense account. Marino, a former liver transplant surgeon who became a politician about ten years ago, denies he's done anything wrong.  But he doesn't have the confidence of the people of Rome.
Then there are the recent scandals involving important figures in the Church. Two priests, one who was a member of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, an important Vatican office, are embroiled in controversy and scandal.
Pope Francis is trying so hard to do everything right, to be a positive image for the Church and he is succeeding, but there are problems in the Church. Problems that are usually not dealt with in an open and constructive way. Problems that need to be addressed in an intelligent, pro-active and pragmatic way.
God help Pope Francis as he sorts through these problems with his advisers. Finding solutions will mean "thinking out of the box," and asking the Holy Spirit for guidance. Pope Francis receives so many prayers each day, hopefully those prayers will give him clarity of thought and the knowledge of God's will for the Church.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Good Versus Evil-"In Our Face"

Last week, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., were filled with sunshine and the best of living faith, living hope, living goodness with the visit of Pope Francis. In an interesting article I just read at the New York Times website, it seems that Pope Francis' first visit to the United States, impressed a lot of people, Catholics and non-Catholics alike. He took America by a "holy storm", his genuineness, his holiness and his goodness permeated the visit and has created an invigoration for Catholicism. That's great.
And so we saw God's goodness and glory last week with the Pope's visit and the Pope's generosity of spirit and his great message of mercy and forgiveness. It gave us hope and for those of us who love the Church, it was a well needed boost of positive energy and news.

But this week, we saw the work of the devil in America. We saw the devil show his ugly face in Roseburg, Oregon, in the horrific killing of innocent college students and a teacher. It's sickening that mentally disturbed people (those with evil thoughts and plans) can get guns and do such damage to innocent lives and families. Those families will never be the same, they will wake up each day to a nightmare that never ends.

The news was such a pleasure to watch when Pope Francis was in America. The news was uplifting, the images pure and good. The Pope kissing babies, hugging people, hanging out with adoring schoolchildren, and worshipping God at Mass, was a joy to behold.

But this week we see the devil at work, in a tragic mass killing of young, bright people. Those innocent victims had hopes and dreams. Those dreams have been destroyed, their lives have been robbed from them.
It doesn't make any sense. My prayers are with the families of those who died and were injured and I also pray that more is done in this country to help the mentally disturbed.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Pope Francis in America-The Right Pope For This Time in History

Watching TV this morning and absorbing the magnificent images of Pope Francis being welcomed to the White House by President Obama and Michelle and thousands of others, with all the pomp and circumstance, was awe-inspiring. President Obama began by stating, "What a beautiful day the Lord has made." Yes it is a beautiful day, a fitting quote by the President and a morning filled with abundant hope and God's glory shining through. The welcome that the U.S.A. has given to Pope Francis with President Obama and his family, the Vice President, his wife, as well as schoolchildren and others welcoming him to America as his plane landed at Joint Base Andrews was a reminder of how well liked and admired Pope Francis is, not only in America, but in the world. It's all good.
Pope Francis spoke in English when he addressed the American people for the first time at the White House, on a glorious sunny day in the Northeast. That was helpful that he spoke in English and he spoke about important issues that matter.
Once again, I applaud this Pope/Pastor for tackling a controversial issue, that of climate change. The science backs his claims that we need to protect the Earth better, to do more, to reduce waste and reduce pollution. Care for the Earth is a part of Catholic social teaching, it is not new, but this Pope has written an encyclical and spoken forcefully about world powers addressing this issue, sooner than later.
So this is a great day in America and the next few days will be inspiring as we see positive, hopeful images, flashed across TV screens and newspapers, of a Pope who is a good, humble pastor, who is respected and loved by most.
As I continue to watch TV, the love, good will and admiration for Pope Francis that is pouring freely in Washington, D.C., along the parade route as well as in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is incredible to watch. With joy, I continue to watch the Outdoor Canonization Mass.......What a blessed day!  God Bless him and God Bless the great country of America!

This quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church as it relates to Pope Francis on this special day in America....
"All creatures bear a certain resemblance to God, most especially man, created in the image and likeness of God. The manifold perfections of creatures-their truth, their goodness, their beauty-all reflect the infinite perfection of God"  (CCC 40-41)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Should I Go To Central Park to See Pope Francis? (Well, I Didn't!)

I haven't written a blog entry in awhile. Not sure why, perhaps it was writer's block. But anyhow, here I am facing a religious dilemna. My son was thoughtful enough to get me an unusal birthday present. He entered a lottery and won us both a ticket to view Pope Francis' motorcade through Central Park on September 25th. He was so excited to tell me that he had won and that we would be going. And I was excited too, at first, until I thought about it. I've been very blessed in that I was able to see Pope John Paul II on his two trips to New York City. I attended the Mass at Shea Stadium in October 1979 and the Mass at Aqueduct Raceway in Queens in 1995.  Then I saw Pope Benedict at the Farewell Ceremony at John F. Kennedy Airport in 2008. They were all remarkable experiences, that filled me with joy.  But I had a seat at each of those events and though you had to wait a long time and be seated well in advance it was well worth it, of course.
But I'm older now and the thought of being in Central Park among thousands of people unnerves me a bit. I'm not sure what I will do. I would love to see Pope Francis in person, love to be there to receive his blessing, which I'm sure he will do as his motorcade drives by but.......
I will be watching television, for other Papal events, which provides the greatest viewing, but I will have to pray about going to Central Park.
I entered another lottery for tickets for Madison Square Garden to attend a Mass with Pope Francis, which I would love to go to, but there have been so many entries, I'm not sure I would be lucky enough to win.
So right now my only option if I want to see Pope Francis in person, in New York,  is Central Park and I'm not sure what to do. I guess I should pray about it.
What a blessing to have Pope Francis in New York! What a blessing he is to the Church!

*UPDATE: I didn't go to see the Pope in Central Park, but my son did and he said I missed a lot. (Though he admitted it was chaotic at times, on the line to get in and it probably wasn't for me.) Not only did I miss seeing Pope Francis but I also missed the beautiful rainbow that suddenly appeared within a cloud, right before the Pope began the motorcade through the park. Clearly, God is with Pope Francis! Pope Francis' trip to the United States was a great success and renewed the faith of many. Alleluia!!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Cardinal Dolan and Mayor De Blasio Brainstorm To Do God's Work in NYC

I read some good news this week, about much needed affordable housing in New York City. Cardinal Dolan met with Mayor De Blasio to discuss making available "properties in the archdiocese's portfolio for affordable housing and emergency shelters." Cardinal Dolan was quoted as saying, "We want them to be used for the mission of the Church-namely for teaching, education, health care, housing, charity-and this fits in." Speaking of Mayor De Blasio he said, "He and I work for the same people, namely God's people, the people of this city and they've told us this is an urgent need. Let's do it."
Mayor De Blasio is a non-practicing Catholic but considers himself to be a spiritual person, who admires Pope Francis.
Mayor De Blasio has consistently said that he wants to do something about the housing crisis in NYC. Something must be done. Poor people as well as middle class working people can no longer afford to live in New York City and the surrounding areas. Prices of apartments, even to rent have soared in the last 10 years. Prices to buy a home or condo are steadily becoming out of reach for most working class New Yorkers.

In the neighborhood in Brooklyn where I grew up, hard working teachers, police officers, firemen, transit workers, merchants and others were able to buy a starter home (as my parents did) and give their families a good life in the city. That is becoming less and less realistic as prices continue to rise out of the reach of the lower and middle classes. It's a shame, because its all of those people who give NYC the ethnic and cultural diversity which makes it such a vibrant place to live.
And so the partnership between the city and the church, working together to give New Yorkers the opportunity to live in affordable housing is a very good thing. Certainly God's work.
I saw a program on TV about a year ago, about families living in shelters and what they go through. It saddened my heart. I wrote an e-mail/letter to Mayor De Blasio, asking him to address this growing crisis. I was surprised to get a reply. He promised he was going to do something to get families out of shelters and into decent homes.  He said it was a priority of his administration.
So obviously this was good news I read this week,  very uplifting and promising.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Pope Francis Recognizes The Importance of Protecting the Environment-World Day of Prayer For Creation

I am very grateful that Pope Francis is aware of the importance of protecting the environment and caring for the Earth. The Pope recently announced that he has instituted a World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation to be celebrated annually on September 1st.  Praise God! That is great news.
In a letter published by the Holy See Press Office, the Pope wrote the following words of wisdom, "As Christians we wish to offer our contribution towards overcoming the ecological crisis which humanity is living through.....for believers in Jesus Christ, the Word of God who became man for us, 'the life of the Spirit is not disassociated from the body or from nature, or from worldly realities, but lived in and with them, in communion with all that surrounds us.'" Amen to that!
Many climate scientists believe there is still time to turn the situation around, but nations must act quickly, intelligently and responsibly.   The Earth's temperature is already rising, and if this continues there will be food shortages, risks to water supplies,  rising seas, increased flooding in low lying areas and erratic weather patterns.  These impacts are already being felt in some parts of the world and in the U.S.
California's historic and serious drought will impact food supplies in the U.S. and elsewhere, if the drought doesn't end soon. The Pope is taking a brave and much needed stance to "wake" people up because it's a reality and it's happening already.
Coming from Pope Francis who is a moral authority, the call to action, to protect the environment and to make it a priority to care for the earth and its resources, is serious. The Pope recognizes our role as Christians in protecting God's beautiful and abundant Creation.  I applaud his efforts on behalf of the environment.
May God magnify the Pope's efforts and may pastors in local parishes (especially those near oceans on the coasts of the United States or those experiencing extreme drought) preach on the importance of taking the issue seriously and finding ways to help.  

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Bishop-elect Robert Barron's Challenging Appointment as Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles

I am one of the thousands ( probably millions) of Catholics who hold Fr. Robert Barron in high regard. He is a great blessing to the Catholic Church.  His YouTube video's, popular website (Word on Fire) and his books as well as his priestly vocation have been a blessing to millions, throughout the world. His Catholicism film series is an award- winning series on the Catholic faith that is a must see for all Catholics. It is a great catechetical tool and I'm always surprised when I meet church- going Catholics who have not seen it. It should be shown in all parishes, with discussion afterwards, as was done in my parish a couple of years ago.
I was amazed to read that next to Pope Francis, he is the "most followed Catholic leader on social media." What an accomplishment, in the modern world!
 I was pleasantly surprised to read that Pope Francis appointed Fr. Barron an auxiliary bishop of  the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. That means that he will be leaving his position as Rector/President of the University of St. Mary of the Lake/ Mundelein Seminary, which is located outside of Chicago. So he is definitely going to an area of the country with warmer winters, that's for sure, but California has its share of problems right now and that could be a challenging environment to be in.
Fr. Barron acknowledged that Los Angeles is "an energetic, diverse and creative" Archdiocese and so it seems his own creativity and energy will be an asset to the Church there.  But Los Angeles is a place  where unfortunately some of that creativity has been used to disrespect and dishonor God. What I mean by that is that when I go to the movies, I often hear the name of God being taken in vain and there is no need for that. God has said through the Scriptures that there will be repercussions for dishonoring the name of God. Hollywood doesn't seem to care or perhaps those who make decisions regarding scripts, don't realize what they are doing. I wish they would be more respectful of God's name.
But in any event, I wish Fr. Barron the best of luck and God's blessings in his new assignment.
Let's hope he can be a blessing and a bridge in that creative place he is going to.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

"Blessed Is The Nation"...July 4th, 2015.......

As we celebrate this 4th of July 2015 let us ever be mindful of the great country we live in, (if America is your home).  In this great country,  my family was given opportunities to live and thrive in freedom. I am ever grateful for the blessing I received when I was born in America to Italian-American parents. My grandparents came from Italy and they crossed the Atlantic Ocean in the hope they would have a better life for themselves and future generations and that has come to be. Thank You Lord!
"Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord" (Ps. 33:12). Our nation is in need of blessings, so that we can continue to thrive and grow.  God has to remain part of the equation. The founding fathers of this great land always believed that God would greatly bless us and that too has come to be. But to forget God or ignore God's power, goodness and generosity would be opening ourselves to more problems than we need at this time in history or any time for that matter.
And so I pray on this Independence Day that we will continue to recognize the place God has in our democracy and to give God glory and praise for this great country of America and also remember the great Americans who have gone before us, who have helped maintain our freedom,  peace and greatness. God Bless America!

Abraham Lincoln  (16th President of the United States) ....
" We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven. We have been preserved, these many years in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own."  ((1863)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Brave and Enlightened Pope Francis and the Climate Change Encyclical

"Praise Be To You"- ("Laudato Si") the environmental encyclical,  is a brave and courageous undertaking by Pope Francis to wake up the world to the dangers of climate change and global warming. Alleluia-Praise be to God for this encyclical by Pope Francis. There must be rejoicing in Heaven and St. Francis of Assisi must be leading the joyful celebration!
I quote from the New York Times, "The vision that Francis outlined in a 184 page papal encyclical is sweeping in ambition and scope: He described relentless exploitation and destruction of the environment and said apathy, the reckless pursuit of profits,  excessive faith in technology and shortsightedness was to blame." He said, the world's poorest people are being "dislocated and disregarded." Very sad.
All I can say and write is "Wow!" That took guts to write that. I was never more proud to be Catholic.
Interestingly, though poor people will suffer tremendously from the effects of global warming and climate change, even rich people will be affected. For instance, Los Angeles, California has some very expensive real estate and some very wealthy people live there and they are already feeling the effects of global warming, as California is having a drought of historic proportions. And that drought could get worse. Many climate scientists believe that global warming will cause some parts of the Earth to experience extreme droughts while other parts will have stormy weather with frequent downpours. We see that happening already. So the poor and the rich will be affected but everyone else as well. California produces much of the fruits and vegetables in our country and we will soon see rising food prices, if the drought doesn't end soon.
I haven't read the encyclical yet but I will. But I am very happy that the Pope is trying to wake people up, especially people who have the power to change things, before it's too late. One of my fears is that it is already too late and we just don't know it yet.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Msgr. McCann's 50th Anniversary of Priesthood and Retirement from St. Mary's Parish-Manhasset

Msgr. John McCann, the pastor of St. Mary's in Manhasset, Long Island is retiring as well as celebrating 50 fruitful years of priesthood. The parish had two celebrations and a beautiful Mass to honor their pastor. On Friday evening May 29th a party was held at North Hills Country Club which was very special. As Msgr. wrote in the bulletin afterwards, "It was an evening I will always remember." Msgr. James McDonald, pastor of St. Aidan's in Williston Park, who was at the party along with many other priests, remarked that he had never seen a retirement party quite like it. It was rather grand. I was fortunate enough to be there as well.
At a Mass in his honor last Sunday he asked Fr. Nick Zientarski (Dean of Seminarians at St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers, who celebrates weekend Masses at St. Mary's) to preach. Fr. Nick gave an extraordinary homily. Preaching on the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity, he spoke about communion, the importance of communion in the Blessed Trinity and Msgr. McCann's ability to create a communion in the parish. It was a dynamic homily, obviously very well thought out.  It was so good that Msgr. said after the homily he was going to hire Fr. Nick, ahead of time,  to preach at his funeral Mass. Quite funny! But yes, the homily was that good. I told Fr. Nick afterwards that since there were two Bishops in attendance at the Mass (and he knew that ahead of time), he will probably be made a Bishop someday because of that homily! (Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre as well as Bishop Robert Coyle -Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese for the Military Services concelebrated as well as many other priests. )
Here are some pictures from the Procession at the beginning of Mass. After the Mass, there was another celebration in a large tent on the premises, which was very well attended.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Missionaries of the Most Holy Eucharist and Their Powerful Consecration at Mass

I went to a Eucharistic Retreat Day at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, NY yesterday. The Missionaries of the Most Holy Eucharist conducted the retreat. Fr. Sean Davidson, Fr. David Nugent and Deacon Barry Braum facilitated the day. It was a remarkable day, most especially because these priests who now live at the Seminary and conduct Eucharistic retreats there as well as in parishes, celebrated Mass in an extraordinary way. I'm going to find it hard to describe what I mean. During the Mass, these priests incense the altar, each other and the congregation, and though that's not unusual, there is something about the way they do it, that is.  They perform the consecration with a intensity, holiness and focus that is very moving and mystical.  That was the most beautiful part of the day. It's hard to put into words, you'd have to experience it for yourself. It's the way it should be, at every Mass, because you really get a sense of being at the heavenly banquet and in the presence of Christ.
There was adoration throughout the day, talks, an outstanding homily by Fr. Sean. Another highlight was near the end of the day, we were all blessed individually with the Blessed Sacrament in the Monstrance. The Monstrance was held up to our foreheads as we kneeled before the altar. Very powerful day. If you would like to know more about their retreat days, check out their website at

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Bishop Murphy Encourages Praying For Peace on Long Island

Bishop William Murphy has asked for the Diocese of Rockville Centre to "become a burning furnace of prayer for peace." What a great idea! People in the diocese, like elsewhere, regularly pray for peace but this is a more intentional, focused effort by the bishop to pray for peace in the Diocese. Bishop Murphy sent a letter to priests of the diocese saying that "while it is easy to get angry and even vengeful due to the violence, terrorism, ethnic and religious battles going on in the world, followers of Christ are called to be peacemakers." Alleluia to that!
The pastor of my parish, published parts of that letter in our Church bulletin and it really has parishioners and the priests of our parish talking about how we can include more prayers for peace, throughout the parish and it's ministries.
Bishop Murphy wrote, "For us disciples of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, there is no choice but to follow his example and become instruments of His peace....That demands first and foremost that we recognize that ultimately peace is a gift from God Who alone can guarantee true and lasting peace. He goes on to say that we must all be a part of this effort and pray daily for peace in the world.
He goes on to say, "Prayer is God's weapon of choice that is always at the ready so long as we exercise it. For this reason, I am issuing a call to peace as Bishop of this Diocese, an urgent invitation to one and all, without exception, to accept the responsibility and to commit ourselves to daily prayer for peace."
Amen. What a Spirit-filled suggestion, what a great undertaking!
The Bishop also asked for every parish to include a prayer for peace in the Prayer of the Faithful at every Sunday Mass and to organize Holy Hours for peace. There are many other suggestions for intentionally praying for peace in Catholic schools, religious education programs and other Church groups. He encouraged everyone to say this prayer daily, "A Prayer for Peace of Pope Saint John XXIII"....
"Lord Jesus Christ, who are called the Prince of Peace, Who are yourself our peace and reconciliation, Who so often said, 'Peace to you,' Grant us peace!
Make all men and women witnesses of truth, justice and brotherly love, Banish from their hearts whatever might endanger peace. Enlighten our rulers that they may guarantee and defend the great gift of peace. May all peoples of the earth become as brothers and sisters. May longed for peace blossom forth and reign always over us all. Amen. Mary, Queen of Peace, Pray for us!"
I pray that this inspired effort of Bishop Murphy bears much fruit and helps to bring forth a time of peace on this earth. AMEN, AMEN, AMEN.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Quadruple Rainbow on Long Island-A Sign of God's Presence

Yesterday morning after a night of storms, Amanda Curtis captured this rare photo of a Quadruple rainbow as she was waiting for the train in Glen Cove, Long Island. She said, "I didn't realize how rare it was, I just knew it was beautiful." Lucky for her, she didn't miss her train, as she took the photo quickly and then rushed to catch her train. The photo has gone viral and rightly so.......She paused and noticed the beauty of nature, of the natural world and with modern day technology was able to capture that in a blessed moment.
I've always believed that New York is a blessed much good here, so much positive energy, creativity, lots of religiosity and prayer comes out of New York...some might find that strange but I know it to be true. Yes, a quadruple rainbow in the early morning, of an ordinary day,  is a sign that God is here, with us, still providing awesome beauty, still in charge of the vast and amazing Universe, we call home.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

CNN's Show Highlighted Atheists and the World of Non-Believers

I watched most of the CNN special last night, "Atheists: Inside the World of Non-Believers," about atheists in America. I couldn't help but feel sorry for the people (and ministers) who had lost their faith. It was so sad to see the parents of a young adult atheist, struggle with their son's atheism.
Personally, I couldn't live a meaningful life without faith in God and a relationship with Jesus. I'm baffled by anyone who can live without faith. But there are a lot of people in America who have lost their faith, or were never raised with it. It's frightening that so many millennials are giving up on God. They're losing so much hope, meaningfulness, connectedness to the Divine and spiritual benefits.
I suggest that since atheists are so fascinated with science (as many believers are too!) they should read the Wall Street Journal article published a few months ago titled, "Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God." It seems many astrophysicists now believe that "the appearance of design is overwhelming" (in the Universe)........Oxford professor Dr. John Lennox ( I assume he's very, very smart and isn't living in some fairy tale world!) is quoted as saying, "the more we get to know about our Universe, the more the hypothesis that there is a Creator..gains in credibility as the best explanation of why we are here...." Thank You Dr. Lennox!
Well, atheists can believe what they want to believe but its not the truth. It's pride that makes them think they are smarter, that they don't need mystery or God.
No one knows why not every prayer is answered or why Jesus had to suffer, or why God remains silent at times,  but as a believer I know God exists, I have eyes of faith and with eyes of faith I can see the workings of God in the world. I also know I am loved by God and that is priceless!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Bishop Barros of Southern Chile Should Resign For The Good of the Church

Catholic bloggers have questioned the appointment and the silence from Rome.  Why would Pope Francis insist on appointing Rev. Juan Barros, Bishop of Osorno, Chile when the appointment was controversial from the start? Whoever advised Pope Francis on this decision, missed the mark.
In today's New York Times it stated that, "Hundreds of demonstrators dressed in black barged into a cathedral in a city in southern Chile on Saturday and interrupted the installation ceremony for the city's
new Roman Catholic bishop, Juan Barros, whom they accuse of complicity in a notorious case of clerical sexual abuse, blocking his passage and shouting, 'Barros, get out of the city.'"
There was a chaotic scene in the cathedral with demonstrators as well as the media and Barros' supporters as well. Outside the cathedral over 3,000 people chanted that he should resign.
Demonstrators were claiming that they received a "slap in the face from Pope Francis himself," with the unpopular appointment.
The article claims that Pope Francis was well aware of the controversy surrounding the Rev. Juan Barros but my question is was the Pope well advised, was he made aware of the public outcry and the amount of upsetness this appointment caused the Catholic population of Chile?
How can this Bishop be effective in his role? In my humble opinion, and for the good of the Church, Bishop Barros should humbly resign and do other work in the Church where he can be more effective. I'm not judging him because I don't know all the circumstances but I do know that the Protestant ministers in that area of Chile will only be too happy to welcome all the disenchanted Catholics who decide to leave the Church over this appointment.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Will Pope Francis Resign One Day? Resigning Popes-The New Normal?

It seems like Pope Francis has opened the door for the possibility that he might resign one day, as Pope Benedict did in 2013. That resignation was a shock for everyone, including Cardinals and Bishops, who were caught by surprise.  In a recent interview Pope Francis said, "I have a feeling that my pontificate will be brief-four or five years, even two or three. Two have already passed. It's a somewhat strange sensation. I feel the Lord has placed me here for a short time."
That's a fascinating statement. For one, it makes you think that Pope Francis had a premonition that his pontificate will be short. Though the Pope is a healthy 78 years old, he is obviously considering retiring at some point, before he dies. He said, "I share the idea of what Pope Benedict did."
It's amazing that Pope Francis has the stamina he does at 78 years old. As I mentioned in my last blog entry, he is very well liked and has great popularity (as most people realize). Who could possibly fill his shoes and connect as well with the people as he does? Who else can preach the importance of God's mercy, as convincingly as he does? He's the right Pope for this time.
And so it seems like Pope Benedict changed things by resigning.  It seems likely that other Popes, when they feel they can no longer fulfill the role because of age or illness, or they lack the energy, will consider resigning.  I think that's a good thing, it puts less stress on the Pontiffs of the future.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

More Good News About Pope Francis

Who doesn't need a little good news with the weather we've been having in the Northeast?  I certainly do as it's just been another day of being snowed in, shut in the house.  This winter just keeps hanging on, when everyone just wants it to be over. Actually, I shouldn't complain.  We did travel to Florida for a week. That was very nice,  but it's weird when you hear some Floridians complain about 65 degree weather being too cold for them.  And they're serious.
I needed to read something uplifting and so when I read an NBC news story online about how Pope Francis' popularity just keeps growing, it did just that.
Apparently (and it's no surprise), Pope Francis is more popular than ever in the United States. "With ninety-five percent of Catholics who go to Church every week giving him high marks and 7 in 10 of  Americans of all faiths rating him favorably in a new survey.....His popularity puts him on par with Pope John Paul II in the 1980s and 1990s." He's even respected by non-believers and that's saying much. And to have achieved the popularity of St. John Paul II is truly amazing and no small feat.
So it seems Pope Francis was the right choice for this age and his kindness, compassion and humility was just what was needed at this time in history. The Cardinals who elected him Pope, following the guidance of the Holy Spirit got it right.
Thank God it's all turned out so well. Something to be happy about as the mounds of snow have to be faced tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Bill O'Reilly Has His Catholic Faith To Sustain Him During Controversy

Bill O'Reilly who is the Fox News host of "The O'Reilly Factor, political commentator, best selling author and media star has been swirling in controversy recently over alleged exaggerations and distortions in his reporting. I don't know all the details nor do I know if it's true that the "liberal media" is out to get him, but what I do know is that Bill O'Reilly is a person of faith, he goes to Church, he prays and his relationship with God will be a source of comfort and support to him during this trying time. It's very plausible that people with a political agenda are trying to ruin him, and he certainly believes that, but he also believes that God will help him and see him through this. I saw on a video clip where he mentions his faith in God and how he believes in God and miracles.
I often tell people how important it is to have deep faith because you never know when a crisis will strike in life and it can come in many forms. When you have faith and when you nurture that faith through the sacraments and prayer, it will always be available to you as a source of inner strength and courage. Jesus said, "As they persecute me they will persecute you," and that can come in many ways, at different times in life. But if you stand firm in your belief in God, if you pray and humble yourself then as the great St. Julian of Norwich said, "All will be well and all shall be well and all manner of thing will be well."
I have no doubt that Bill O'Reilly will overcome this present trial and the accusations against him. And until the controversy passes, he will have his deep faith and his relationship with God to sustain him.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Our Celebrity-Obsessed Culture and the Young

We live in a celebrity-obsessed culture, a culture that influences young people and drives what's fashionable and "in." Social media is also a powerful driving force in our culture. And that's both good and bad. But some things are out of control and there's nothing anyone can do about it.  I watched some of the Grammys the other night, the music was enjoyable. But when you look at what some female entertainers and movie stars wear, and how much cleavage they show, with slits as high as can be in designer dresses they wear, it's a lot to process. The shock of it all isn't so much a shock because it's become commonplace now for movie stars to dress like porn stars. And everyone just accepts it. And some young people emulate it and think it's cool.
 People of faith always have to have hope and in reality, people will always turn to God for the benefits of prayer, for comfort, for blessings, and to be in a life-giving relationship with God. But unfortunately moral decay, greed and immodesty is everywhere is our society. The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue this year is proof of that. Some people interviewed on news programs say, "What's the big deal?" But it is a big deal when a mainstream magazine puts "soft porn" on their cover and gets away with it.
Thank God there is a lot of common sense and goodness in our world too. I saw that on Sunday morning in a presentation I gave to young Catholic students. Their sense of right and wrong, their innate goodness in wanting to be good and stay good, inspired me. Children always do. They want to get it right. They believe in the power of prayer and goodness. Let's pray that amidst parts of the modern culture that promotes immodesty, young people will seek out the true, the beautiful, the decent, the good and a genuine search for God.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Spirituality and Blessings Surrounding Super Bowl XLIX-2015

I watched with millions of others as Malcolm Butler, a little known player for the New England Patriots, intercepted a pass with 20 seconds left and gave New England the championship. Malcolm was interviewed after the amazing catch and he said, "  I just had a vision I was going to make a big play." It will probably go down in football history as one of the greatest plays in Super Bowl history, so his "feeling or vision," came to be.  Afterwards the rookie player said, "I'm very blessed." Well that's quite obvious to anyone who watched the game.  Good that he was grateful for the blessings he received.
I was reading an article in Sunday's New York Times Magazine section titled, "Tom Brady Cannot Stop," and I was surprised to read that Tom Brady's father spent seven years in a Catholic seminary before deciding that the priesthood was not for him, as he wanted to marry. Tom and his father remain very close, according to the article. Tom Brady attended an all boys Catholic high school, Junipero Serra in California.
According to the article Tom's friend, coach and "spiritual guide," and godfather to his younger son, is Alex Guerrero. They work closely together to keep Tom, "physically fit, emotionally stable and spiritually sound." Their mantra which they repeat often is, "Where your concentration goes, your energy flows and that's what grows." I thought that was interesting.
So blessings, positive thinking, concentration, hard work and I'm sure prayer, went into the amazing Super Bowl victory for the Patriots. It just had that unusual quality to it.

P.S. In reality, God doesn't take sides in football games, I know that, and probably some fans, family members and players were praying for their team to win, on both teams..........but it was an extraordinary win nonetheless.......

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

No Blizzard Apocalypse for New York City-But Make Peace With God Anyway!

New Yorkers love to complain and so it's no surprise that people are complaining that the weather forecasters got it wrong. The blizzard that was forecasted to be a near record breaker spared the city, for the most part.  (Maybe God heard my prayers, because I was praying that "Prayer Against Storms" that I found on Deacon Greg Kandra's blog!)  My house is surrounded by huge trees and a windy blizzard is something I fear......for good reason. I already had a tree fall on my roof from Hurricane Sandy and it's not a sound I want to hear again!
On Tuesday morning the meteorologists were apologizing for their "big forecast miss."
Actually where I live, we got about 12 inches of snow and parts of Suffolk County, Long Island got 28-30 inches of snow and unfortunately two people died.  So the forecasters weren't off totally.  And it was a disastrous blizzard for parts of coastal New England.
Governor Cuomo, took the unusual step of shutting down the NYC subway system (which has never been done in its 110-year history). Mayor de Blasio  had to admit that "it was nothing like we feared it would be." The funniest thing I've read which I have to share, is the satirical report that "The Onion" wrote and which Mayor de Blasio (like a good sport) read at City Hall.
NEW YORK—As a major winter storm continued its advance toward New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio advised residents Monday to make peace with whatever higher power they call God, for all shall meet their death in the coming tempest. “The furious hoarfrost bearing down upon us knows neither mercy nor reason, and all within the five boroughs will perish, cowering in their brittle dwellings,” said de Blasio, adding that none would find succor from the gale save those favored by providence to pass quietly in their sleep. “This shall be a tempest the likes of which has never been glimpsed by man or beast. Clutch your babes close to your breast and take small comfort in knowing that they will howl for but a few hours before death becalms them forever.”  (The Onion)
That is really funny! But in truth we should always be at peace with God because we don't know the day or hour........

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Missionaries of the Most Holy Eucharist Arrive At the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception-Huntington

This is great news! Msgr. Richard Henning, the Rector of the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, NY recently sent out a letter to the Friends of the Seminary announcing the arrival of the Missionaries of the Most Holy Eucharist. The letter gave this information about the new arrivals, "Fathers Sean Davidson and David Nugent belong to a new community of priests, established in the Diocese of Toulon in France. That diocese has become a center for the New Evangelization. As the number of English-speaking vocations has grown in their community, the Missionaries have decided to establish a presence in the United States. I am pleased and grateful to God that they will reside and work here at the Seminary."
Fr. Sean and Fr. David grew up in Ireland. They have recently arrived from the Missionaries residence in France. They have traveled around the world and now they will be conducting retreats, days of recollection and Eucharistic Adoration within the Seminary as well as in parishes. During the Sundays of Lent, the Missionaries will provide Eucharistic Adoration during the day and also be available to hear Confessions, at the Seminary. All are welcome.
This is great news for the Seminary. There have been many innovative, educational programs and retreats at the Seminary which was greatly needed, since the seminarians themselves now study in Dunwoodie in Yonkers at St. Joseph's Seminary.
This new partnership with the Missionaries of the Most Holy Eucharist will bring new life to the Seminary and add to the existing programs that are already offered.
Come, Holy Spirit Come!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Cutest Drawing of the Holy Family! Mary's Holding a Cell Phone

This has to be the cutest drawing of the Holy Family. It was drawn by my 7-year-old cousin's friend, who received First Penance (along with my cousin and other 2nd graders) on Saturday, in a Long Island Parish. What makes this drawing unique is that if you look closely Mary is holding a cell phone. A little girl can't imagine that someone as important as Mary wouldn't of had one! I love the hearts too!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Atheists Will Have To Reconsider-Science is Waking Up To God's Existence

The best news I've heard in the New Year, came this morning in a copy of a Wall Street Journal article that I was given from December 26th titled, "Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God," by Eric Metaxas.
Alleluia! It seems some members of the scientific community are starting to wake up and realize what believers, theologians and religious scholars have known all along. It's called intelligent design and its the belief that the Universe and life itself is too complex, has too much diversity and mathematical exactness and perfection to just be an accident or coincidence.
I can't explain the entire article but basically what it says is that the more astrophysicists study the Universe and the origin of the Universe the more clear it becomes that there has to be an intelligent Creator (Super-intelligent Creator) to not only have set Creation in motion but the forces of gravity, the electromagnetic force and the "strong" and "weak" nuclear forces were determined "less than one millionth of a second after the big bang....Alter any one value and the Universe could not exist."
"Fred Hayle, the astronomer who coined the term, 'big bang' said that his atheism was 'greatly shaken' at these developments." (And other findings which are stated in the article.)
"Theoretical physicist Paul Davies has said that 'the appearance of design is overwhelming' and Oxford professor Dr. John Lennox has said 'the more we get to know about our Universe, the more the hypothesis that there is a Creator...gains in credibility as the best explanation of why we are here."
And so as the old expression goes, "Why is there something instead of nothing?" There is something, there is creation, and intelligent life and great diversity, complexity and beauty in our world, because there is intelligent design and God exists. It's not that complicated!