Here is a sample of some of the features in theDecember issue of The Long Island Catholic Magazine. To subscribe to the magazine click here  To read online versions of previous issues click on the “About Us” tab on our homepage and go to “Past Issues of Magazine” or click here.

from the editor

It is wrong for those in power to manipulate election process 

It’s unusual to find Newsday’s and the New York Post’s editorial pages in agreement. Even less so, the New York Sate Conservative Party and the liberal New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG). Yet prior to last month’s elections, they all found themselves on the same side — criticizing the revised, and blatantly biased, wording of New York State’s ballot initiative to legalize casino gambling.

Weeks before the election, New York’s Catholic bishops issued a balanced advisory on the proposal — recognizing its potential for some increased revenues and job opportunities, but also warning of the negative consequences associated with casino gambling — from criminal activities like fraud and embezzlement, to increased DWI incidents, gambling’s addictive attraction to those who can least afford it, and the bankruptcy and poverty that can result or be exacerbated.

One would have hoped for such balance in the state’s ballot initiative — either by fairly representing the pros and cons or, given the limited space on the ballot, just stating the proposal objectively. According to Newsday, that is exactly what the original wording did — simply asking whether voters would approve allowing the state to authorize and regulate “up to seven casinos.”

But then the proposal was rewritten — according to the Conservative Party, “behind closed doors by the Cuomo Administration” — asking voters to “allow the legislature to authorize up to seven casinos in New York State for the legislative purposes of promoting job growth, increasing aid to schools, and permitting local governments to lower property taxes through revenues generated.”

How much did the changed wording — which made the ballot proposition read like a campaign flier in favor of the proposal — contribute to its easy passage on Election Day? We can’t know for sure, but John Sullivan, former mayor of Oswego and former state assistant attorney general, writing in the Post two weeks before the election, cited a Siena poll where respondents given the initial, neutral wording split evenly, 49 percent for, 49 percent against; those given the changed, pro-gambling wording supported the proposal, 55 to 42 percent.

Adding to the cynicism, according to Sullivan — who is also former co-chair of the state Democratic Party — the acting state Supreme Court judge who upheld the biased wording “will lose his job next year unless he’s re-appointed by Gov. Cuomo — who many suspect is behind the ballot shenanigans.”

Nor, it seems from here, was manipulation of the election process limited to one party, or one governor, this year. In New Jersey, Republican governor Chris Christie needed to call a special election to fill the remainder of U.S. Senator Frank Lautenburg’s term after Lautenberg died in office last summer. Christie decided to hold a special Senate election Oct. 15 — at extra cost to taxpayers. Was there any reason that vote could not have been held on Election Day, Nov. 5, when the polls would already be open?

Well, there was one discernible political benefit to holding it on a different day. The governor, by all accounts, wanted to roll up as big a victory margin as possible in his own Nov. 5 re-election, to better position himself as a potential Republican presidential contender in 2016. To have Newark Mayor Cory Booker — the Democrats’ Senate nominee, and a popular vote-getter — on the Nov. 5 ballot might have increased Democratic voter turnout, potentially reducing Christie’s margin of victory. Would the governor, who has cultivated an image as a tough fiscal conservative, have wasted public revenues on an unnecessary second election simply to boost his presidential aspirations? It is hard to conceive of another reason for having done so.

Catholic citizens could and doubtless did reach different prudential judgments — hopefully, properly informed by Catholic moral and social teaching — as to the potential merits and drawbacks of casino gambling in New York, and in choosing which candidates to vote for.

All of us, however, should be together in defending the integrity of our democratic system, and deploring cynical efforts by those in power to manipulate the election process to advance either a policy agenda or a personal political ambition. And we should let these governors, of our state and our neighboring state — BOTH of whom clearly harbor ambitions for national office — know that we expect better.

Rick Hinshaw is the editor of The Long Island Catholic Magazine.

 

spiritual fitness

The Lord is coming

four weeks to get ready

 

The readings for the First Sunday of Advent are a marvelous “launching pad” for living Advent. I’d like to show you a way to really live this season.

  Read Romans 13:11-14 and Mt. 24:37-44. Pay special attention to these words: “Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: If the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So, too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

   In our society, the first week of December begins a round of parties and plays, school events and musicals. All of them can be delightful. But what happens to the real Advent? If we lived in a truly Christian society, we would spend these weeks encouraging one another to grow in faith, to prepare our hearts to celebrate the infinitely merciful act of our God who would take on our flesh, to become like us in all things but sin, so that we could really see that we had a God who would do anything to convince us of His love. It is a miracle of love so stupendous that our minds cannot take it in. Because we spend so little time reflecting on the miracle, God’s grace has little chance of penetrating our distractedness or indifference. God could just reveal Himself and change us forever. But that would overrule our gift of free will. So God places before us the unbelievable gift of Himself in the flesh and asks us to accept Him as our Savior. God, the only God, makes Himself vulnerable (able to be wounded) to His creatures. He gives all of Himself and then lets us choose whether we will accept the gift or not. He makes Himself vulnerable to indifference, coldness, rejection and mockery and waits for our response.

   What keeps you back from fully accepting Jesus as savior and lord of your life? It’s the only source of true peace
and joy.

   Jesus tells us in the readings for the First Sunday of Advent that greed and lust, drunkenness, rivalry and jealousy, indifference to eternal matters – all these make false promises that will never satisfy. On the other hand, allowing Him to be the master of your life will bring true joy and peace. Really. God never lies! What He promises He will fulfill in your life and mine.

   Advent is a time to take stock in joyful anticipation of a Savior who loves to come to our lives through the joyful celebration of Christmas. Not a day of tinsel and wrappings, but a day of holding and being held in the arms of a merciful Savior who came on this earth out of love for you.

   Advent is a time to make our hearts ready to receive Him each year in a deeper and deeper way. If you’ve never done it, why not begin this Advent? If you have done it before, enter in this year more deeply to the saving work of grace in your heart that your Savior desires to accomplish.

 How do we get ready?

 Spend the first week (15 minutes a day) taking stock of what it is in your life that most causes God to take a back seat in your life — or no seat at all! Be honest. As you think about the sin in your life, think, too, about what is the most problematic area — what’s the root? What’s the most basic cause of your sin? Pay attention to yourself, not what someone else causes you to do. What do you do that is at the bottom of most of your difficulties? Then, take that to confession. Do it now because God has so much more to give you in preparation. You want to make sure that the house is clean early in Advent so you can receive all God desires to give. After you have gone to confession, ask God for the grace to clearly see the temptation in this area before you give in to it — in thought or word or action.

 

  Each day of the second week (15 minutes), ask God every morning for grace to recognize when you are being tempted and to give you the grace to say “no” to that temptation in this area. (Don’t try to cover all the areas of sin that leads to discouragement. Just take one area and, the more you can attack the main root, the better it will be.)

 

  In the third week, ask God to enter into your life more deeply; ask Him to be your savior and, in a particular way, ask Him to save you from sin in the area to which you are paying most attention. We cannot save ourselves, no matter how hard we try. Acknowledging that and relying on Him will set you free with delight and hope in a whole, new way!

  In the fourth week, thank Him that He is your savior. Really, take time each day to express your gratitude that He is giving you power to conquer sin step by step. Don’t be discouraged when you fall; just stand up, repent and keep going. Many of us have difficulty in expressing gratitude. Start practicing with the one to whom you owe the most gratitude Jesus! Prepare to welcome Him more deeply into your heart and into your whole life as your savior! Rely on Him, turn to Him in your needs (all the ways we need a savior) and this Christmas may well be the best Christmas you have ever known! God bless you and count on my prayer.

 Sister Ann Shields is a renowned author and a member of the Servants of God’s Love. Questions can be addressed to Sister Ann Shields, Renewal Ministries, 230 Collingwood, Suite 240, Ann Arbor, MI 48103

 

believe and profess

By Bishop William Murphy 

A great gift for our diocese

After Mass in St. Agnes Cathedral on the Feast of All Saints, I had the privilege of presiding at a Church Tribunal to finalize an investigation into an alleged miracle that took place in our diocese! In 1975, Pope Paul VI beatified Blessed Mother Maria Droste, a Sister of the Good Shepherd who died at 35 in Portugal after living a short but intensely holy life in service to the poor, children and orphans. For her to be canonized the Church seeks a second miracle which occurred at Long Island Jewish Hospital when a Catholic woman who was dying and all her vital signs failing was visited by her son, who placed a relic of Blessed Maria Drostec in her hand. The vital signs reversed and became active again. Their prayer for her intercession was rewarded! Today the woman is a sprightly 92- year-old who participated with her son at the Mass and joined us for the solemn sealing of the evidence that was then carried by the Postulator of the Cause to Rome for the Congregation of the Causes of Saints. Eventually this will be submitted to the Holy Father and, if approved, will be the qualifying testimony to the sanctity of Blessed Maria, who then would be eligible for canonization.

I see this great gift for our diocese as one of the fruits of our First Diocesan Eucharistic Congress in 2006, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the founding of our diocese. Coming at the completion of the Year of Faith it fits beautifully into the days of adoration we celebrated from the Feast of Christ the King to the day before Thanksgiving. What a great reason to give thanks to God!

Pray for our seminarians

On December 14, I will be at St. Joseph Seminary in Dunwoodie where most of our seminarians are in formation. Msgr. Peter Vaccari, the rector, in collaboration with America magazine, has organized a day of prayer and reflection for members of the Catholic media. I will celebrate Mass for them and then spend the rest of the day talking with the 16 men of our diocese who are very close to being ordained priests. The next day I have another good moment, presiding at Christmas Lessons and Carols at the College Seminary residence in Douglaston, where we have 13 men at the college level studying and praying to discern a vocation to priesthood for our diocese.

This year, as a member of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, I spent Thanksgiving at the North American College in Rome attending the Plenary Session of that Office of the Holy See. I was especially happy to be with our four men studying theology in Rome and in formation at the College which is my own alma mater. We also have a seminarian in pre-theology at the Theological College in Washington and another man at Blessed John XXIII Seminary outside Boston. Pray for these men, that they will one day be ordained priests to serve the Diocese of Rockville Centre.

 

Education tax credit bill

Catholic schools and Catholic education are essential elements of our life as a Church. Parents sacrifice much to send their children to our 43 Catholic elementary and 10 Catholic high schools. Tomorrow’s Hope Foundation does a magnificent job raising money to help our elementary school parents with tuition aid. Generous as people have been, we still struggle, but we will not give up. Coming before the state legislature in Albany is the Education Tax Credit Bill. Thanks to Senator Skelos and his colleagues, it has passed the state Senate twice. Thanks to the work of many of your neighbors, we have been able to convince all Long Island members of the Assembly to co-sponsor this bill, which allows a tax credit to any tax payer for money contributed to either a public or a non-public school. It is our aim to have it become part of the budget bill that will be decided in March. This will help all schools. But for us, as we struggle to keep tuition costs down and schools open, this bill serves the cause of justice and will enhance our ability to keep our Catholic schools thriving. Please let your state senator and assemblyperson know that you support this bill and you want it to be part of the budget bill.

 

Telecare

Telecare is a treasure for us as a diocese and for the cause of the new evangelization. Every year, Telecare holds an awards luncheon that gathers supporters of our diocesan television channel to honor people who have made outstanding contributions to proclaiming the Gospel message. This year Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore was honored for his leadership of efforts to protect religious freedom and freedom of conscience in our country. In addition, a Long Islander from St. Catherine of Sienna Parish, Joe Zwilling, was honored. He has been Chief Information Officer for the Archdiocese of New York for three Cardinal Archbishops. I had the joy of presenting to Mr. Michael Pascucci, long time Chairman of the Telecare Board, the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Award, the highest honor the Holy Father awards to a layperson. Congratulations to them and congratulations to Telecare.

 

Bishop’s Calendar – December 2013:

 

12/2  Telecare Board Meeting

12/4  Meeting with Cabinet, 8:30 a.m.

12/5  Meeting with Vicars, 10 a.m.

12/8  Second Annual Art on the Vine, Seminary of the Immaculate Conception, Huntington, 2 p.m.

12/9   USCCB Domestic Justice & Human Development and International

12/10   Justice & Peace Committee Meetings, Washington, DC

12/11  Meeting with Cabinet, 8:30 a.m. / Meeting with Presbyteral Council – 12:30 p.m.

12/12  Meeting with Finance Council, 7:30 a.m. / Seminary Board of Trustees Meeting, 3 p.m.

12/17  Catholic Health Services Corporate Board Meeting, 9 a.m. / Meeting with Priest Personnel Assignment Board, 1:30 p.m.

12/18  Senior Priests Christmas Luncheon, 12 p.m. / Evening Prayer & Dinner with Seminarians, 5:30 p.m.

12/20Telecare Award of Excellence Luncheon, Crest Hollow, 12 p.m.

12/23  Christmas Liturgy & Breakfast with Pastoral Center Employees, 9 a.m.

12/24  Christmas Midnight Mass,
St. Agnes Cathedral, 11:30 p.m.

12/25  Christmas Day Mass,
St. Agnes Cathedral, 11 a.m.