Here is a sample of some of the features in the November issue of The Long Island Catholic Magazine. To subscribe to the magazine click here or put your envelope in the collection basket on Long Island Catholic Sunday, Dec. 1st. 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.
the catholic home
by Alice Gunther
Fifty years ago, in October 1963, the Beatles recorded their No. 1 song, “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.” I remember the record spinning on vinyl in my room back in the 1970s, and my dad knocking on the door, demanding me to lower it. The lyrics are sweet and simple and pleasingly repetitive:
“Oh yeah, I’ll tell you something, I think you’ll understand. When I say that something, I wanna hold your hand, I wanna hold your hand, I wanna hold your hand.”
Fast forward to 2013. Few Americans did not hear of a performance by 20-year-old Miley Cyrus at the Video Music Awards. With shaved head and a barely adolescent build, Miss Cyrus was paired with married, 36-year-old singer Robin Thicke, while he sang his No. 1 hit song of the summer of 2013, “Blurred Lines.” The next day, the Internet was full of criticism for Cyrus, with relatively little said about Thicke. His own mother placed the blame for the debacle on Cyrus, saying, “I don’t understand what Miley Cyrus is trying to do. I just don’t understand.”
Thicke’s mother must not have listened to the lyrics of “Blurred Lines,” or she would not have been surprised:
“I know you want it, I know you want it, I know you want it, but you’re a good girl; the way you grab me; must wanna get nasty.”
Those are the politest lines in the song. The rest of “Blurred Lines” — the parts that seem written by an abuser or a particularly evil pimp — are not suitable for print. To hear those words, you would need to check the iPod of the nearest middle-schooler. With music piped directly into his ears through headphones, that middle-schooler will have no father knocking on the door and asking him to turn it down.
While the Beatles were aspiring to the honor of holding a young woman’s hand, Betty Friedan was writing The Feminine Mystique (1963), a book believed by some to have begun the modern feminist movement. Ms. Friedan believed that women would never truly be wholly happy unless given complete access to birth control and abortion on demand. Her ideas took root and are today deeply enshrined in our government, schools and culture.
Can there be any doubt these ideas contributed to the view of womanhood celebrated by Mr. Thicke’s song?
In the widely reviled encyclical Humanae Vitae (1968), Pope Paul VI warned that the widespread use of birth control would lead to “marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards,” and warned that “a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.”
The absolute truth of this warning was on full display at the VMAs this year — and that is no blurred line.
in the know with Father Joe
Spend some quality time with Jesus in adoration
Sometimes, even Catholics don’t quite know what it is we believe about the real presence of Jesus in the consecrated host. So let’s begin with that, because it is the central teaching of the Church. We believe that, during the consecration at Mass, the bread and wine change their very essence — their substance — and actually become the body and blood of Christ. Isn’t that an amazing gift Jesus gave us at the Last Supper? He didn’t just give us the command to remember Him, He gave us the ability to receive him in our remembrance … He is really present to us whenever we receive Communion. It’s the ultimate in cool.
Since we believe that Jesus is actually present in the Eucharist, what could be more natural than wanting to spend some quiet time alone with Him? I know that if Jesus appeared before me this afternoon and said, “Hey, Joe — I’d just like to hang out with you,” I would drop all my other appointments for that one. Since that isn’t likely to happen, the closest I can come is adoration.
When we talk about adoration, we are talking about spending some time in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Although we may be referring to praying in front of the tabernacle in church, usually we mean that the consecrated host is exposed — visible to worshippers. The host is placed in a small glass disk, called a luna, and that is inserted in a gold vessel called a monstrance. The monstrance has rays coming from the center, so it resembles the sun. Or, more accurately, the Son. Get it?
The practice of reserving the consecrated host outside of Mass has been around since the earliest days of the Church. You can read about it in the writings of such early Church fathers as Tertullian and Justin Martyr. In the Middle Ages, St. Francis had a deep devotion to the Eucharist and often became ecstatic after receiving Communion. He believed that being in the presence of the consecrated elements was “seeing Christ.” And although Francis, like all of us, saw God in creation, in other people and in the Scriptures, he recognized that Christ was present in a special way in the Eucharist.
In 1226, King Louis VII of France requested a public display of the Eucharist to give thanks for a victory in battle. So many people showed up at the chapel that the bishop got permission to have the exposition of the sacrament continue — which it did, until the French Revolution.
Eucharistic adoration has been a focal point of meditation for many saints, including Cardinal Newman and Mother Seton — both of whom decided to convert after spending time in adoration of the sacrament. Pope John Paul II said, in a Eucharistic Congress in 1993, “The … surest and the most effective way of establishing peace on the face of the earth is through the great power of perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.” And Mother Teresa encouraged the sisters of her order to spend a holy hour in adoration every day — a practice that is common in many churches.
What do we do in adoration? One approach to this meditation is to compare it to the disciples spending the night with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus asked them, and, by extension, us, to stay awake and pray with Him for a while. When we spend time in adoration, we are “staying awake with Jesus” for a time. It’s a time to sit quietly with the Lord and really allow yourself time to feel His love — so often, we are too busy with the day-to-day parts of our lives to do that.
Think about this: We know how important it is to our relationships to invest time in them – you talk to your husband or wife, spend time with the kids, hang out with friends. Isn’t our relationship with God the most important one we could ever have? This is the God who made us, who died for us, who rose from the dead and loves us eternally. So we need to spend a little quality time with Him.
If you’d like to submit a question for Father Joe to consider in a future column, please send it to: email@example.com. Father Joe is unable to personally answer questions.
believe and profess
by Bishop William Murphy
An extraordinary experience
I remain deeply moved and very grateful to God by the extraordinary experience of Sept. 28 in Washington, D.C. That day, 61 buses arrived from our diocese at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception with more than 3,000 pilgrims to celebrate The Year of Faith in our national shrine to Mary. Greeting the pilgrims as they got off the buses, I felt surrounded by the joy of God’s love. From the Angelus at noon to the closing Mass, I met all of you, good faithful people of our diocese. You were visiting the beautiful shrines, praying to Mary, sharing the joy of the day with relatives and parishioners. After lunch, I went to the lower crypt to pray. There were so many people lined up for confession that I found a chair and a kneeler and joined my brother priests hearing confessions. And they continued up to and beyond the time for the rosary. Bishop Perez led the rosary for the adults in the Upper Basilica and Bishop Brennan had a special rosary and meditation geared to young people in the lower crypt church. My brother priests can tell you what a spectacular sight it was to come into the sanctuary and look out to see more than 3,000 people from our parishes gathered as one for the Mass closing the day. Mary was certainly with us, and the Lord gave us a day to remember for a long, long time.
The Year of Faith called by Pope Benedict XVI will be completed on Sunday, Nov. 24, the feast of Christ the King. To keep the spirit of this grace-filled year alive, the Presbyteral Council and the vicars joined me in planning a diocesan-wide continuation of the Spirit through eucharistic adoration that will take place from the feast of Christ the King through Wednesday of Thanksgiving week. The Blessed Sacrament will be exposed for prayers, blessings and adoration in all three of our vicariates. In each one, parishes will take turns having exposition, so every day we all can spend time before the Blessed Sacrament in a parish church near our places of work or homes. (See page 9 for the calendar.) I remember so well our first Diocesan Eucharistic Congress in 2006. What a grace that was! Once again, we will turn to the Lord in His eucharistic presence with us to belong more deeply to Him, His Church and one another. This time, I pray He will give all of us the courage to go into the vineyard and invite Catholics to come back to Sunday Mass and to live the life of Christ with us — a life of joy and peace, a life of freedom and love, the best life we can have because it is union with God.
Seminary a wonderful resource
The Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington is available now for multiple uses. With our seminarians studying theology at St. Joseph Seminary in Dunwoodie, our seminary has become the center and principal institution dedicated to ongoing formation for our diocese. The formation program for men studying for the permanent diaconate takes place at the seminary, directed by Father Gregory Rannazzisi, vice rector of the seminary. The Sacred Heart Institute, owned and operated jointly by the three dioceses of New York, Brooklyn and Rockville Centre, is housed here with the rector of our seminary, Msgr. Richard Henning, as head of that program of ongoing formation for priests. Retreats, conferences and workshops take place there regularly. The seminary is available for meetings and gatherings of many different types related to the life of the Church. For instance, it would work well for day-long retreats for parish confirmation classes or for meetings on religious education or other apostolic works in our diocese. Visit their website, www.icseminary.edu or call the office of the rector at 631.423.4383.
Thanking religious educators
Some years ago, I realized that we do not always thank the generous people who carry on many of the works of our diocese. One group stood out in my mind: the directors and associates who organize and oversee the religious education of our youngsters, as well as RCIA and adult education in the parishes. At that time, I decided to offer a luncheon for them, simply to say, “Thank You.” That will take place on Monday, Nov. 4 at St. Matthew’s, Dix Hills. In September we had our first diocesan Catechetical Congress in more than 25 years. Part of the Year of Faith, it was one of the most exciting and inspiring days for catechists and those who work in faith formation. I hope we have more of them! But I want you all to know that this is just another example of how our diocese shows her richness and diversity, her faith-filled life that brings Christ to people and people to Christ.
Finally, a Happy Thanksgiving to one and all. I will be with our seminarians in Rome on Thanksgiving Day. I pray you are all with family and friends and that God blesses one and all!