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 and to all police officers who protect communities.
This madness has to stop. Yes, police reform and better training is needed.  But 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.
NJA

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.
NJA

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.
NJA

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.
NJA

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.
NJA

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!
NJA

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.
NJA