Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Who Will Help Care for and Support Poor Babies Born With Microcephaly from Zika

The first day of the penitential season of Lent is as good a time as any to think about those poor babies born with microcephaly, a condition linked to the mosquito that transmits the Zika virus. The World Health Organization has called the Zika virus and the birth defects it apparently causes an international health emergency.
These babies are being born into poor families in Brazil and other Latin and South American countries as well as the Caribbean.  Families already living in poverty are now being challenged with having a baby with special needs. One mother was quoted as saying, "How can we do this, how can we support this child?" That remark has haunted me. Doctors are haunted by mothers who ask them if their babies will improve, if their small heads will grow larger.
I hope that Catholic Relief Services will begin a program to support these families. I intend to write them, but I'm sure they've already thought of it.
There are many people who would be willing to help these families and international organizations who try to set up programs for these children as they grow.
In this Year of Mercy, these children must be shown mercy, compassion and love and their families supported, so that their burden is lessened.
NJA


Monday, February 1, 2016

Pope Francis Receives Visit From Actor Leonardo DiCaprio

Pope Francis granted the famous actor Leonardo DiCaprio a private audience recently at the Vatican. Leonardo wanted to discuss their common interest in helping the environment (God's creation). Leonardo has his own Foundation to support environmental initiatives. Leonardo was quoted as thanking the Pope for granting him a private audience (he brought his father along) and he gave the Pope a book of works by the 15th century painter Hieronymus Bosch which contained a reproduction of a work that hung over Leonardo's crib as a child and greatly affected him. He also gave Pope Francis a check to be used for the Pope's charities.
Who would have ever believed that Pope Francis and Leonardo DiCaprio would have something in common but they do. They both believe that something must be done to stop the degradation of the environment, the polluting that is hurting not only the environment but threatens humankind on many levels.
Di Caprio who has been nominated for an Oscar for his role in the movie, "The Revenant," needs some blessings and perhaps being near to holy Pope Francis will give him the edge he needs to win an Oscar. I saw the movie, it was very violent, too violent for me, but the story was amazing and DiCaprio did an incredible job acting.
Pope Francis gave DiCaprio a leather bound copy of "Laudato Si" and "The Joy of the Gospel. " I hope Leonardo reads them both.
He would be a great evangelizer for the message the Pope is trying to get across to modern society. We must preserve and protect this beautiful creation that God gave us, or we will all pay the consequences of not doing so.
NJA

Monday, January 18, 2016

Those Great Nuns of Upper Nyack, New York

I was very happy to read the article in the NY Times titled, "Nuns' Property Along Hudson to Become Parkland" which tells the wonderful story of the Sisters of Our Lady of Christian Doctrine (also known as the Marydell sisters), a religious order of nuns from Upper Nyack, NY who did the right thing. Instead of selling their valuable property overlooking the Hudson River to developers, they instead decided to sell 30 acres of their property to the Trust for Public Land, a nonprofit conservation group, which will turn it into parkland for the public to enjoy.  This was important because it adjoins both Nyack Beach State Park and Rockland Lake State Park. The views are apparently amazing and are some of the views that inspired the Hudson River School painters.
The sisters who have sold the property to help with the aging sisters and to make repairs on the property they will continue to own (they are keeping 10 acres), could have sold it for a much higher price. But the sisters believe the land is sacred and should be preserved for future generations.
Sister Veronica Mendez, the order's president said that, It's beautiful......It really is a priceless piece of property, no matter how much money anyone offered us. This just seemed right."
Preserving a small piece of God's beautiful creation is a heavenly thing for sure.
NJA


Thursday, January 7, 2016

The New Year Off To An Uncertain Start-Money Evaporates in the Stock Market

There is so much uncertainty in the world, not sure how people without faith live. I couldn't do it. Faith gives me hope, inner strength, confidence and the certainty that no matter how things are, "with God all things are possible." And in the words of Julian of Norwich, "All will be well and all shall be well and all manner of thing will be well." Faith and belief endure, because God is real and God's truths will prevail.
In the New Year, so far,  the stock market has lost a lot of value. People have lost a lot of money over the last four days. There is real panic because people just don't know what will happen next. It's been the worst beginning of a new year for the stock market ever. I watch business news because my husband watches CNBC and so I watch it too sometimes. The smartest minds in business and finance don't know where it's all going. China's policies affect the whole world. So our economy is tied to global worries and China's economic policies.  Some people think we are headed for another recession but no one really knows.
Recessions and financial troubles come and go. The market goes up and down and there is great volatility.
People should be prudent with their money in these uncertain times. My friend who goes to a Catholic charismatic gathering near Boston every year, told me a few months ago that many people were inspired by the Holy Spirit and spoke of trying times that were coming. I said to her, at that time, "Well what do you think people should do with their money to keep it safe?" Her reply was, "put it under your mattress!"
Those of us who rely on prayer and God's truth stay close to God and weather the storms.
NJA

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

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

Another year has gone by......it 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,
Nancy

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.
NJA

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!
NJA