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!!