Friday, November 21, 2014

Rolling Stone Article on UVA Rape Allegations is Shocking

To read the article that recently appeared in Rolling Stone Magazine, "A Rape On Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA," which I read online, is to be shocked. It is sickening. The article written by Sabrina Erdely is very well done. This is highlighted at the beginning of the article,
"Jackie was just starting her freshman year at the University of Virginia was she was brutally assaulted by seven men at a frat party. When she tried to hold them accountable a whole new kind of abuse began."
The details given in the article are hard to believe, the situation that Jackie found herself in and still suffers because of, is unimaginable. Because of the article and the fallout, the University of Virginia chapter of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity has suspended all operations.
To compound the shock is the allegation that the University of Virginia did little to investigate the numerous claims of gang rape that apparently have taken place at the university frat houses over the years.
How can this be? How can administrators look the other way? Why aren't college orientations geared towards preparing students on how to behave in a civilized and moral way in all interactions.  What has happened to our society and to young people? (Some young people, not all of course)
University administrators know there is a link between heavy drinking and rape on and off campus, that's been documented in scholarly articles. Why hasn't more been done to address these serious problems and come up with intelligent, common sense solutions that work.
People speak of moral decay, declining values in America and a loss of religious values.....well to read that article is to become convinced that something is out of whack in our country, that some young people are truly lost, deluded and following the wrong path. And adults who know better, who should set higher standards, are not doing so and I can't imagine why.
Does it have to do with the fact that the number of Americans who attend worship services is declining as well as those who believe in God?  Perhaps. Without God, without prayer, without worship services or Mass, society will suffer and we're seeing that already happening.
I pray something good, something positive comes out of this horrific story in the news. God help us and help our young people.

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.)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Bishop Andrzej Zglejszewski-Communion Breakfast at the Seminary And Other Things

I visited the beautiful Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. The renovation is stunning. It's a magnificent Church in a very trendy neighborhood of Brooklyn. What a challenge for the Rector, Msgr. Kieran Harrington, to try to engage the young adult Catholics in the neighborhood!
I walked over the Walkway Over the Hudson in Poughkeepsie, NY this Fall with family and friends.  I highly recommend the experience. If you are not familiar with it, it's the longest, elevated pedestrian bridge in the world.
Auxiliary Bishop of Rockville Centre-Bishop Andrzej Zglejszewski celebrated Mass and gave a talk at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, NY on Sunday, Oct. 26th. It was sponsored by the "Friends of the Seminary" at their annual Communion Breakfast. Bishop Andrzej shared a lot of wisdom and hope with us that morning. In his homily, he spoke about how crucial it is to have God be a part of all our relationships in order for them to be life-giving. Love of God calls us to continual conversion. Love of God calls us to show that love in action. He also spoke about the importance of the Blessed Mother in the life of Catholics and how important it is to stay close to her in prayer and to trust in her closeness to us. It was a great day. The Committee of which I was a part, helped to make the day a success. Bishop Andrzej, a native of Poland, was inspired by Pope John Paul II to become a priest. He was named a Bishop by Pope Francis in Feb. 2014. Expect great things from him!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Economic Inequality Keeps Getting Worse in America-Brooklyn and Queens Are Examples

In an article I read today on Daily Finance, Federal Reserve Chair- Janet Yellen was quoted as saying that, "the growth of economic inequality in the United States wasn't in keeping with American values....The extent of and continuing increase of economic inequality in the U.S. greatly concerns me." She should be concerned, the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer. There's nothing wrong with people living the American dream and bettering themselves (my grandparents as Italian immigrants did just that) but the poor need a chance to escape poverty and have the opportunities that money affords. Education is the great equalizer and good educational programs for all is necessary.
As I've observed, no where is economic inequality more evident than in Brooklyn and Queens in NYC. Real estate prices and rents have "gone through the roof."The poor in places like Redhook,  Williamsburg and Bushwick Brooklyn can no longer afford to stay in parts of these neighborhoods (most parts). Expensive high rise buildings and boutique buildings are going up everywhere, and that's not a terrible thing, if affordable housing was also being built for lower class and middle class families. As I've said before on this blog, I was born in Brooklyn and lived most of my life there and part of what made it great then and now, is the lower and middle class families, living in ethnically diverse neighborhoods. There has always been diversity, stimulation, creativity, deep religiosity and best of all great food in Brooklyn and Queens.
But it seems the world has discovered the attraction of all that Brooklyn and Queens has to offer. Lifelong residents of Brooklyn and Queens cannot believe the amount of money some properties are selling for.
As Janet Yellen said, "Income and wealth inequality are near their highest levels in the past hundred years, much higher than the average during that time span and probably higher than for much of American history before then."
I don't know what the solutions are aside from building more affordable housing but more needs to be done to close this widening gap. People need hope, people need to be rewarded for hard work. Children need a nice home to grow up in, so they can feel proud and part of the fabric of society.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

We Know Jesus Existed And Is Who He Said He Was!

I get upset when I read about nonsense and lies such as the book which is causing controversy because it's filled with distortions and outrageous claims and that's Michael Paulkovich's book, "No Meek Messiah." His so- called research which is being questioned by scholars and even by some atheists, claims that there is no mention of Jesus in 126 historical texts he's studied of people, who lived during or after Jesus. He makes the ridiculous claim that since Jesus wasn't mentioned in those texts he didn't exist and was a "mythical figure." He ignores the gospels and other books of the New Testament and dismisses the mention of Jesus and the early Christians, which are mentioned in some ancient writings. He also ignores archaeological evidence from the early Christian communities, which clearly show that those ancient Christians believed Jesus was the "Anointed One, the Son of God and Savior, and were willing to be tortured and suffer death rather than deny Christ.
Blinded by ignorance, pride and an anti-Christian agenda, he doesn't value the opinion of the majority of scholars and historians who are in "unanimous agreement that a Jewish man named Jesus did live in the early 1st century and was crucified by Pontius Pilate." (Simon Edwards-Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics).
It seems that Mr. Paulkovich, believes that he knows better and is smarter than all those scholars and historians and the early Christian witnesses, the apostles and the martyrs who were willing to give up their lives for Jesus. And millions of Christians who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, to this day, through prayer and worship. (Two billion Christian believers in the world and growing.)And all the great saints............and the writings of the Church Fathers and Doctors of the Church and all the brilliant biblical scholars and writers..........over the last 2,000 years......
In an article published by "Christian Today," which I read online, titled "New Book Claiming Jesus Did Not Exist Dismissed By Historians", the following is stated and well put,
"Biblical scholars Gary Habermas and Michael Licona have analyzed over 3,400 hundred scholarly works and articles that have been written on the historical claims surrounding Jesus' life since 1975, so as to determine the minimal facts of history that all serious historians agree on, Edward explains....Their work demonstrates that virtually every serious historian, whether Christian, atheist, agnostic, or otherwise acknowledges the following three minimal facts about Jesus Christ-1-He died by crucifixion, 2-that his disciples genuinely believed that Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to them on a number of occasions and 3-the early Church exploded in numbers soon after Jesus' death."

Check out the great article written by Carey Lodge that I quoted from in "Christian Today." It's an article well worth reading.

"Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God."  (John 1:34)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Fr. Cedric Pisegna Returns To Long Island To Preach

Fr. Cedric Pisegna, C.P., Passionist priest, preacher and television personality returned to Long Island to St. Aiden's parish in Williston Park, for a parish mission this week.  I attended the first night and Fr. Cedric was uplifting, upbeat and inspiring. He has a natural style, he's easy to listen to and he instills hope. What's better than that! Sadly,  he shared that his mother recently died (about 6 weeks ago) and he was still grieving. He's received a lot of condolences and support which he was grateful for.
It was an evening filled with good music and good preaching, with a few jokes thrown in.
His TV show, "Live With Passion," will have new episodes coming out and you can see his show on Telecare and other local stations. He's hoping that EWTN picks up his show as they are considering it.
His talk on Monday evening centered on overcoming obstacles. He said that challenges in life make champions. "If God is for us, who can be against us?" ......"We are more than conquerors through Christ who loves us!" He spoke about courageous people such as Helen Keller who overcame great obstacles and limitations and did great things because she persevered and kept going. He said, "Focus on what you can do, don't focus on what you can't do."
He mentioned Robin Roberts book which he recently read, "Everybody's Got Something." He quoted her, "Being optimistic is like a muscle, you have to use it, to strengthen it."
Fr. Cedric also said, "Live passionately, with enthusiasm and push on. Passion is energy, it's enthusiasm."
He himself is a product of his own positive thinking, his great faith in God and his openness to the urgings of the Holy Spirit. What he preached that night is what has worked in his own ministry and life and he keeps bearing great fruit for the Lord and the Church. And he's helping God's people as well.