Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Fr. James Martin's Incredible Book- "Jesus-A Pilgrimage"

The Bible study class in my parish, that I attend, usually meets throughout the year except for the summer months. This summer some of us in that class decided to meet during the summer to read uplifting, spiritual books and discuss them once a week.  The first book that someone suggested was not that uplifting but it was fascinating. I had never heard of it until the group mentioned it and it was written by a rabbi who happens to be a Messianic Jew (he believes in Jesus as Messiah). The book is a best seller and it is quite intriguing.  The book is "The Harbinger" by Jonathan Cahn.
The next book we read was Scott Hahn's masterpiece, "The Lamb's Supper-The Mass as Heaven on Earth." It should be required reading for all Catholic high school students and RCIA participants. We recommended it for everyone in the parish to read though I'm not sure how many actually did.
The final book is a large one and it took us over five weeks to read but it is a truly amazing work and a great book. I highly recommend it. It's Fr. James Martin's "Jesus-A Pilgrimage." We are on the final 100 pages which we will complete discussing next Monday.
I've been reading religious, spiritual books my whole adult life (I've been on this journey a long time). But Fr. James' book is special, he pulls from so many good sources in his reflections and analysis. The book tells of his experiences as he makes a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with his priest-friend George. As a Jesuit, Fr. James shares a lot of his own experiences and thoughts as well as other Scripture scholars that he has either read or studied with.  It's easy reading though the pilgrimage covers the serious subject and experiences of Jesus' life, his travels throughout the Holy Land, (his hidden life as well as his public ministry), his preaching, his relationship with his apostles and disciples and of course his intimate relationship with His Father.
The book is very good.  If you get a chance to read it, don't rush through it. I'm now reading what is for me the most difficult part of Jesus' life to read about and that is the end of his life and his tragic and painful death. It is not easy for me to think about it and reflect upon it.
Fr. Martin is a great writer and all the praying he did in the Holy Land while taking notes for the book, seems to have paid off.  His prayerfulness comes through the work.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Robin Williams Senseless Death-The Devil's "Hand" In It

It's hard to imagine how someone as talented, admired, successful and loved as Robin Williams was could take their own life in suicide. Just the other morning the serious topic of depression came up in a summer book club, that I'm a part of, at my parish.  We are reading the great book by Fr. James Martin, "Jesus-A Pilgrimage," and the topic of depression came up by one of the participants.  I responded that a severely depressed person has to seek professional help because depression can lead to suicide. I've read that and unfortunately it happens a lot.
Apparently from an article I read, Robin Williams' was at high risk for suicide because of his age,  and that he suffered from chronic depression and substance abuse. His wife recently admitted that he also had the early signs of Parkinson's Disease. But still you wonder why no one saw it coming and tried to get him the help he needed.
They say he was a comic genius. Genius in human beings can work both ways, it can make you incredibly creative but it is a two-edged sword. It can also make you depressed and cause you to suffer from highs and lows.
According to data, many suicides take place at night. Doctors should insist that depressed people who admit to having suicidal thoughts take a sleeping pill or anti-anxiety medicine which promotes sleep if any negative thoughts come into their mind. Things always look more hopeful in the morning. That should be reinforced over and over again in therapy and counseling.
Just tragic how his life could have ended so bleakly. He was a generous, gifted actor and he had a lot to live for. Life is precious, every life and it's so sad that people are in such pain, that they take their own life.
I'm convinced that people who suffer from depression are targets for the devil. The devil preys on disturbed and confused minds. I know there are people, especially most professionals, who would not agree and think that's ridiculous but I think it's the truth.
May Robin Williams rest in peace and may his family be given the peace and respect they deserve at this time.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Why Is Experimental Serum for Ebola Being Withheld From Sick People Who Need It?

The deadly outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa is the deadliest one in history. There is a lot of misinformation and confusion about this scary disease in West Africa and elsewhere. But there are a lot of questions and I have quite a few.
 Life is precious, all life is precious, I would hope we can all agree on that. There must be other doses of the experimental serum that helps treat people who are infected with the deadly Ebola virus.  The experimental serum that was given to Dr. Kent Brantley and Nancy Writebol seems to have worked. It has also been effective in trials with infected animals, in a laboratory, who were given the serum. The sooner it is given after a person (or animal) shows symptoms the greater chance they will survive the deadly disease. There must be doses of this experimental serum, (ZMapp) somewhere, and yet they are being withheld. I can't understand this.  According to CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, within 24 hours of Dr. Brantley being given the serum, he started to show signs of improvement. Nancy Whitebol took a little longer but she is also improving. They were given the serum in Africa, before they were flown to America. One company, whose stock was soaring on Friday, Tekmira pharmaceuticals,  is developing a vaccine and/or serum to fight Ebola. They must have some serum that is available. (I just read they have a very limited supply of their experimental medicine.)The experimental serum is very promising so what's holding up the distribution and manufacture of it? After all, it's an international health crisis. People are dying, children are sick and yet where is the serum? Is it because more testing is needed, its not conclusive? Do you think people who are dying are going to care about side effects or exhaustive trial studies?  Or does it have to do with cost?
 Even if there are 50 doses of this serum available, why not give it to 50 sick people? Children? Who is holding this up? And why isn't the process to manufacture more of this serum being expedited?  (According to a New York Times article I just read from Sat. Aug. 9th, "There are virtually no remaining supplies of the drug....... And in a few months there will only be a few hundred doses"......I find it hard to believe).
From what I've read all the medical trials and experiments on infected animals in the laboratory, so far have been promising. And also with human beings as I've written above. So what's holding up giving this serum to sick people?  Why isn't it being distributed to Doctors Without Borders (who do such great work in West Africa) for use? Or more importantly why not rush to manufacture additional doses to halt the epidemic and save lives and continue safety trials on the drug at the same time.
In one article I read about this deadly outbreak, the doctors and nurses who were treating dying patients said people dying from the virus had one last request. Most victims just wanted someone to hold their hand while they were dying. I felt so sorry for these poor people. More must be done and quickly.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Peace in the Holy Land?....Cure for Ebola?...Some Good News Lord..

On Tuesday, August 5th a 72 hour cease fire between Israel and and Hamas was agreed upon and went into effect, please Lord let it hold. Israeli ground forces have also been removed from Gaza, which is another hopeful sign. Let there be peace in that part of the world, we call Holy. Let the violence end and peace talks begin. There needs to be a lasting solution so that Israeli children and Palestinian children grow up in a peaceful world, where peaceful co-existence is achieved through negotiation and common sense solutions that work.  How hard can this be?
Please Lord, I pray that the experimental serum that was given to Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, both afflicted with that dreadful disease Ebola, will be the cure and it will be marketed as soon as possible. This process must be sped up. If people are dying and it seems to have worked on these two cases, what's the sense in waiting to help others. Who cares about side effects when without the serum, death is almost certain, especially in Africa.
I'm always amazed at selfless, compassionate people who risk their lives and travel to foreign countries and put themselves in danger to help others. Missionary work is truly a noble undertaking, as Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity as well as others, like Christian missionaries from all denominations, have showed us so often. They are truly heroes!  Their deep faith and their desire to make a difference is what brought Dr. Brantly and Nancy Whitebol to Africa.
So hopefully the summer news will improve, the Ebola outbreak in Africa will be brought under control, a cure will be found and better health facilities will be built in Africa and other third world countries because we are all interconnected.
The billionaries of the world (all wealthy people) have to step up and share their wealth, to improve conditions for everyone on this planet. The 85 richest people in the world who have a substantial amount of the world's wealth (according to a latest study), could really make an enormous difference. Of course many are already giving and  doing a lot through their foundations. But more has to be done.   Everyone deserves access to good health care, education, housing and nutritious food and peace, regardless of what part of the world they live in.  Isn't that what Jesus taught over and over again?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The World Unraveling?-_The Sad Summer of 2014-

It's hard not to get discouraged......there is so much negative news. Perhaps some of the only news that's hopeful is the news coming out of the Vatican, where photographs of Pope Francis sitting in a cafeteria eating casually with Vatican workers is uplifting for Catholics everywhere.  Those photos show a Pope who is trying (successfully) to be down-to-earth, Christ-like in his love for ordinary people, and with the people in their everyday lives. It was so good to see the photo of him doing just that on front page of the New York Times. Thank God for Pope Francis!
The other news coming from the Holy Land, from Africa, from the Ukraine and other parts of the world is disturbing. Record droughts in parts of the southwestern United States and elsewhere in the world, rising global temperatures, Ebola outbreaks, plane crashes, wars, violence against women, violence against animals in the wild (out of greed and ignorance), persecution of Christians, ......Almost sounds like the beginning of the end times.
But, of course, no one knows the day or hour when Christ will return in glory but the world is not in a good place right now.
Pope Francis is begging for peace, for an end to destructive wars that destroy homes and maim children and adults. It's absurd that at this time in human history, peace is so elusive for humankind. How difficult is it to solve the problems that keep people hating each other? Where are the solutions? God must be crying.
Pope Francis is begging for peace, "I beg you with all my heart...everything is lost with war."
I know..... "Hope is not an option for a Christian, it is essential to our faith," but sometimes the current news is just so disturbing. But Pope Francis is a light for our times.

Scary News
Ebola kills senior Doctor in Liberia-So sad such a selfless human being.........

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sad Summer News of War and Missile Attack on Malaysian Flight 17

I feel for others, that's called compassion and I have  great compassion for people who suffer because of war, displacement from war and other tragedies. I read and watch too much news as I like to be informed, but most news is disturbing. The news is sad right now because of what's happening in the Middle East between the Israeli's and the Palestinians. How is it that a lasting peace in the Holy Land is so elusive and difficult for those involved? It's tragic. It all started this time,  with the murder of three young Israelis in a heartbreaking story and now it just keeps escalating. Murder brings death, a breaking of the commandments of God and chaos comes forth from that. That's why God warns us to keep the commandments because when a commandment is broken, chaos breaks out.
Then last Thursday the awful news about the civilian airliner, Malaysia Flight 17, shot down by a missile apparently shot by separatists, fighting a civil war in Ukraine. How is it that they had such a destructive weapon that could bring down an airliner filled with innocent people and so many children? Why were planes allowed to fly in that airspace anyway, when several other transport planes had been shot down in that area days before? And even if those who shot that missile thought it was another type of plane, which I'm sure they did,  its still no excuse to shoot a powerful, destructive weapon without knowing for sure what type of airliner it would hit. It's inexcusable, its stupid and it's caused much pain to families of those who lost loved ones. And those poor souls, who were on that plane,  whose lives were cut short, who deserved better, unfortunately, no amount of investigation can bring them back. Christians believe in Heaven, a place of eternal peace and rest, where there is no war or pain but many of those on Flight 17 were too young, and had too much to live for. It's not fair what happened to them.

Praying for those who suffer from war or the effects of war seems like its not enough but its all people of faith can do. Humankind just wants to keep repeating the mistakes of the past. Too many choose to ignore God's commandments and those actions just keep bringing chaos into the world.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Drought Is Serious-Wake-Up Californians!

When I read about the extreme drought covering most of California, which is most likely caused by climate change, I wonder how the people of California are coping with the problem. When I read  on Thursday, an editorial in the New York Times titled "Saving Water in California," I'm amazed that people aren't taking the situation more seriously.
I've been to the West Coast a couple of times and I marveled at it's beauty but I sensed when I visited that there was definitely a more laid back attitude then what I've been exposed to on the East Coast, where I've lived all my life. There's nothing wrong with being more relaxed,  but you would think that when a serious situation arises Californians would act wisely and prudently.  But that's not what the statistics show.
This is what the editorial stated, "California is in the third year of its worst drought in decades. But you wouldn't know it by looking at how much water the state's residents and businesses are  using. According to a recent survey, Californians cut the amount of water they used in the first five months of the year by just 5 percent, far short of the 20 percent reduction Gov. Jerry Brown called for in January. In some parts of the state, like the San Diego area, water use actually increased in 2013...."
What are these people thinking? In one article I read, a women was quoted as saying she was more afraid of earthquakes then water running out. (I would be concerned with both!)
Sounds like the deadly sin of pride to me. Lots of pride can be a dangerous thing. It clouds good judgment which is why it can prove to be deadly.
Tampa, Florida has the largest desalination plant and sounds to me like California needs one too. (Sooner than later.)
We all need to be more humble, do our part when a crisis arises and think of the common good.
But that deadly sin of pride can get in the way....Thinking like, "We can take care of anything, even droughts"........hope so.