Wednesday, March 25, 2015

CNN's Show Highlighted Atheists and the World of Non-Believers

I watched most of the CNN special last night, "Atheists: Inside the World of Non-Believers," about atheists in America. I couldn't help but feel sorry for the people (and ministers) who had lost their faith. It was so sad to see the parents of a young adult atheist, struggle with their son's atheism.
Personally, I couldn't live a meaningful life without faith in God and a relationship with Jesus. I'm baffled by anyone who can live without faith. But there are a lot of people in America who have lost their faith, or were never raised with it. It's frightening that so many millennials are giving up on God. They're losing so much hope, meaningfulness, connectedness to the Divine and spiritual benefits.
I suggest that since atheists are so fascinated with science (as many believers are too!) they should read the Wall Street Journal article published a few months ago titled, "Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God." It seems many astrophysicists now believe that "the appearance of design is overwhelming" (in the Universe)........Oxford professor Dr. John Lennox ( I assume he's very, very smart and isn't living in some fairy tale world!) is quoted as saying, "the more we get to know about our Universe, the more the hypothesis that there is a Creator..gains in credibility as the best explanation of why we are here...." Thank You Dr. Lennox!
Well, atheists can believe what they want to believe but its not the truth. It's pride that makes them think they are smarter, that they don't need mystery or God.
No one knows why not every prayer is answered or why Jesus had to suffer, or why God remains silent at times,  but as a believer I know God exists, I have eyes of faith and with eyes of faith I can see the workings of God in the world. I also know I am loved by God and that is priceless!
NJA

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Bishop Barros of Southern Chile Should Resign For The Good of the Church

Catholic bloggers have questioned the appointment and the silence from Rome.  Why would Pope Francis insist on appointing Rev. Juan Barros, Bishop of Osorno, Chile when the appointment was controversial from the start? Whoever advised Pope Francis on this decision, missed the mark.
In today's New York Times it stated that, "Hundreds of demonstrators dressed in black barged into a cathedral in a city in southern Chile on Saturday and interrupted the installation ceremony for the city's
new Roman Catholic bishop, Juan Barros, whom they accuse of complicity in a notorious case of clerical sexual abuse, blocking his passage and shouting, 'Barros, get out of the city.'"
There was a chaotic scene in the cathedral with demonstrators as well as the media and Barros' supporters as well. Outside the cathedral over 3,000 people chanted that he should resign.
Demonstrators were claiming that they received a "slap in the face from Pope Francis himself," with the unpopular appointment.
The article claims that Pope Francis was well aware of the controversy surrounding the Rev. Juan Barros but my question is was the Pope well advised, was he made aware of the public outcry and the amount of upsetness this appointment caused the Catholic population of Chile?
How can this Bishop be effective in his role? In my humble opinion, and for the good of the Church, Bishop Barros should humbly resign and do other work in the Church where he can be more effective. I'm not judging him because I don't know all the circumstances but I do know that the Protestant ministers in that area of Chile will only be too happy to welcome all the disenchanted Catholics who decide to leave the Church over this appointment.
NJA

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Will Pope Francis Resign One Day? Resigning Popes-The New Normal?

It seems like Pope Francis has opened the door for the possibility that he might resign one day, as Pope Benedict did in 2013. That resignation was a shock for everyone, including Cardinals and Bishops, who were caught by surprise.  In a recent interview Pope Francis said, "I have a feeling that my pontificate will be brief-four or five years, even two or three. Two have already passed. It's a somewhat strange sensation. I feel the Lord has placed me here for a short time."
That's a fascinating statement. For one, it makes you think that Pope Francis had a premonition that his pontificate will be short. Though the Pope is a healthy 78 years old, he is obviously considering retiring at some point, before he dies. He said, "I share the idea of what Pope Benedict did."
It's amazing that Pope Francis has the stamina he does at 78 years old. As I mentioned in my last blog entry, he is very well liked and has great popularity (as most people realize). Who could possibly fill his shoes and connect as well with the people as he does? Who else can preach the importance of God's mercy, as convincingly as he does? He's the right Pope for this time.
And so it seems like Pope Benedict changed things by resigning.  It seems likely that other Popes, when they feel they can no longer fulfill the role because of age or illness, or they lack the energy, will consider resigning.  I think that's a good thing, it puts less stress on the Pontiffs of the future.
NJA

Thursday, March 5, 2015

More Good News About Pope Francis

Who doesn't need a little good news with the weather we've been having in the Northeast?  I certainly do as it's just been another day of being snowed in, shut in the house.  This winter just keeps hanging on, when everyone just wants it to be over. Actually, I shouldn't complain.  We did travel to Florida for a week. That was very nice,  but it's weird when you hear some Floridians complain about 65 degree weather being too cold for them.  And they're serious.
I needed to read something uplifting and so when I read an NBC news story online about how Pope Francis' popularity just keeps growing, it did just that.
Apparently (and it's no surprise), Pope Francis is more popular than ever in the United States. "With ninety-five percent of Catholics who go to Church every week giving him high marks and 7 in 10 of  Americans of all faiths rating him favorably in a new survey.....His popularity puts him on par with Pope John Paul II in the 1980s and 1990s." He's even respected by non-believers and that's saying much. And to have achieved the popularity of St. John Paul II is truly amazing and no small feat.
So it seems Pope Francis was the right choice for this age and his kindness, compassion and humility was just what was needed at this time in history. The Cardinals who elected him Pope, following the guidance of the Holy Spirit got it right.
Thank God it's all turned out so well. Something to be happy about as the mounds of snow have to be faced tomorrow.
NJA

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Bill O'Reilly Has His Catholic Faith To Sustain Him During Controversy

Bill O'Reilly who is the Fox News host of "The O'Reilly Factor, political commentator, best selling author and media star has been swirling in controversy recently over alleged exaggerations and distortions in his reporting. I don't know all the details nor do I know if it's true that the "liberal media" is out to get him, but what I do know is that Bill O'Reilly is a person of faith, he goes to Church, he prays and his relationship with God will be a source of comfort and support to him during this trying time. It's very plausible that people with a political agenda are trying to ruin him, and he certainly believes that, but he also believes that God will help him and see him through this. I saw on a video clip where he mentions his faith in God and how he believes in God and miracles.
I often tell people how important it is to have deep faith because you never know when a crisis will strike in life and it can come in many forms. When you have faith and when you nurture that faith through the sacraments and prayer, it will always be available to you as a source of inner strength and courage. Jesus said, "As they persecute me they will persecute you," and that can come in many ways, at different times in life. But if you stand firm in your belief in God, if you pray and humble yourself then as the great St. Julian of Norwich said, "All will be well and all shall be well and all manner of thing will be well."
I have no doubt that Bill O'Reilly will overcome this present trial and the accusations against him. And until the controversy passes, he will have his deep faith and his relationship with God to sustain him.
NJA

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Our Celebrity-Obsessed Culture and the Young

We live in a celebrity-obsessed culture, a culture that influences young people and drives what's fashionable and "in." Social media is also a powerful driving force in our culture. And that's both good and bad. But some things are out of control and there's nothing anyone can do about it.  I watched some of the Grammys the other night, the music was enjoyable. But when you look at what some female entertainers and movie stars wear, and how much cleavage they show, with slits as high as can be in designer dresses they wear, it's a lot to process. The shock of it all isn't so much a shock because it's become commonplace now for movie stars to dress like porn stars. And everyone just accepts it. And some young people emulate it and think it's cool.
 People of faith always have to have hope and in reality, people will always turn to God for the benefits of prayer, for comfort, for blessings, and to be in a life-giving relationship with God. But unfortunately moral decay, greed and immodesty is everywhere is our society. The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue this year is proof of that. Some people interviewed on news programs say, "What's the big deal?" But it is a big deal when a mainstream magazine puts "soft porn" on their cover and gets away with it.
Thank God there is a lot of common sense and goodness in our world too. I saw that on Sunday morning in a presentation I gave to young Catholic students. Their sense of right and wrong, their innate goodness in wanting to be good and stay good, inspired me. Children always do. They want to get it right. They believe in the power of prayer and goodness. Let's pray that amidst parts of the modern culture that promotes immodesty, young people will seek out the true, the beautiful, the decent, the good and a genuine search for God.
NJA

Monday, February 2, 2015

Spirituality and Blessings Surrounding Super Bowl XLIX-2015

I watched with millions of others as Malcolm Butler, a little known player for the New England Patriots, intercepted a pass with 20 seconds left and gave New England the championship. Malcolm was interviewed after the amazing catch and he said, "  I just had a vision I was going to make a big play." It will probably go down in football history as one of the greatest plays in Super Bowl history, so his "feeling or vision," came to be.  Afterwards the rookie player said, "I'm very blessed." Well that's quite obvious to anyone who watched the game.  Good that he was grateful for the blessings he received.
I was reading an article in Sunday's New York Times Magazine section titled, "Tom Brady Cannot Stop," and I was surprised to read that Tom Brady's father spent seven years in a Catholic seminary before deciding that the priesthood was not for him, as he wanted to marry. Tom and his father remain very close, according to the article. Tom Brady attended an all boys Catholic high school, Junipero Serra in California.
According to the article Tom's friend, coach and "spiritual guide," and godfather to his younger son, is Alex Guerrero. They work closely together to keep Tom, "physically fit, emotionally stable and spiritually sound." Their mantra which they repeat often is, "Where your concentration goes, your energy flows and that's what grows." I thought that was interesting.
So blessings, positive thinking, concentration, hard work and I'm sure prayer, went into the amazing Super Bowl victory for the Patriots. It just had that unusual quality to it.
NJA

P.S. In reality, God doesn't take sides in football games, I know that, and probably some fans, family members and players were praying for their team to win, on both teams..........but it was an extraordinary win nonetheless.......