Friday, October 28, 2016

Finishing Up The Year of Mercy-A Talk By Msgr.P. Vaccari

I have been privileged to be a part of my parish Year of Mercy Committee. Under the direction of Fr. Jude Dioka, Parochial Vicar of our parish, we have planned many events, which helped our parishioners as well as others. I previously blogged about our visit to the St. Pius X Residence for elderly priests on Long Island, where we brought dinner and had prayer and  fellowship with them. That was a great evening.
Last evening we invited a speaker, Msgr. Peter Vaccari, the Rector of St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers, NY to give a talk and take part in Eucharistic Adoration with us. As usual, Msgr. Peter gave an excellent talk, he is a gifted speaker and a great intellect. Besides all that he is a genuinely good priest, and a great rector.
He gave us many good insights into the Queen of Mercy, Mary our Mother. He spoke of her as the new "Ark of the Covenant." He spoke about the tenderness of Mary and Jesus and how Mary can accompany us on our faith journey at each moment. We should be open to the maternal embrace and tenderness of Mary. Through Mary and with Mary's help we can find our joy, our life and our peace in Christ.
He spoke about Pope Francis and how he says we need to be cheerful, knowing we are gifted and blessed and  vessels of mercy, like Mary. Like Mary we need to be filled with peace, joy and enthusiasm. We must turn our gaze to Mary, she intercedes for us. Through Mary and with Mary's help we can find the peace of Christ in our lives.
Msgr. Vaccari spoke about the importance of Eucharistic Adoration, which occurs at the Seminary in Yonkers on Thursday evenings from 7:00-10:00 PM and on other nights as well. He also spoke about the power of the Rosary. How important it is to say it regularly as it's such a powerful prayer as St. John Paul II often wrote and said. The Rosary marks the rhythm of life.
Though it was raining outside, it was a good evening. Msgr. Vaccari is such an inspiring speaker. I told him it's time they made him a Bishop!! He laughed. He's very gifted intellectually and spiritually (and remains down-to-earth) and that's what the Church needs now, (in my humble opinion).

Friday, October 7, 2016

Young People Leaving Organized Religion-The Perfect Modern Storm

Sadly, according to a new study, a quarter of Americans do not belong to any religion and many of them are young people. The Public Religion Research Institute published a study recently entitled, "Exodus: Why Americans are Leaving Religion-And Why They're Unlikely To Come Back."
The study shows that Americans are increasingly identifying as being "nones." Nearly 40 percent of those are between the ages of 18-29. More disturbing is that fact that the Catholic Church has the most that are leaving.
I've been suspicious for awhile that part of the problem is modern technology. Of course there is a lot that is good about modern technology and I certainly use it everyday and find it helpful and necessary. But I keep it in perspective and use it as a tool for study and learning as well as a way to communicate. But I suspect that because young people are constantly checking their Facebook page, their e-mails, text messages, Instagram, Twitter accounts etc., it is very time consuming.
In a NY Times article today titled, "Intimacy For the Avoidant," it quotes a British study which reported people check their phones on an average of 221 times a day-about every 4.3 minutes. I assume that's true though its hard to believe and I'm sure that number is higher for young people. How can there be time for reflection on life's big questions? How can there be time for God? Or time for prayer? Is the need for  God being replaced by cell phones, gadgets and computers. I'd hate to know the real answer to those questions. It's a bit scary.
As David Brooks wrote in the article, "A decade ago almost no one had a smartphone. Now the average American spends five and a half hours a day with digital media and the young spend far more time. A study of female students at Baylor University found that they spent 10 hours a day on their phones."
At a recent prayer group meeting, someone asked, "If people don't have a prayer life, what can they hold onto to? I replied, "Their iphones." We all laughed but there is some sad truth to it.

UPDATED on Saturday morning..... I realized the above entry is too might be true to some extent but....Christians must always have a positive view.... we must have Christian hope....... and know in the words of Julian of Norwich that "All will be well." We should pray for young people that they will come to know the importance of a relationship with Jesus Christ and how it enriches one's life!