Peace be with you!

My name is Nader Ata. I am a Conventual Franciscan Friar of the Our Lady of Angels Province, USA. I am a transitional deacon preparing for Priesthood Ordination in the fall.

Seeking to live with Franciscan Joy each and every day!

*All of photos on this blog were taken by me unless noted otherwise. Please ask permission before using them. Thank You!*

*Also I am not the greatest speller or writer in the world, so please let me know if something is misspelled. Thank you!"


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Indonesia Part 3

Here is a classic picture from my trip to Indonesia. Why you may wonder? Because Pete and I have this uncanny ability to put on a shirt that either matches or looks like the other person's shirt. This day Pete and I both put on red shirts. It was also one of the days were I changed my shirt color and he keep his. It is uncanny! This past Christmas he came over my parent's house wearing a red sweater and I asked him if he borrowed that sweater from me. Pete said "No!" I then went into my room and put on the same exact sweater, it turns out that the Christmas that I was at the Novitiate my mom gave both of us the same sweater as a gift.

Next you will see pictures of another mall we went too, this one is called Grand Indonesia and rightly so because it has eleven stories to it. Here is a picture of the mall from above and one from below. This mall was very interesting. It not only had a ferris wheel, a carousal, and other boardwalk rides, but it also had a huge play area and stage for children. At one point we were watching the show and the "Peanut, Peanut Butter and Jelly" song with a skit was done. If I remember how to upload videos again I will, but no promises. This mall also had something very interesting that caught me way off guard. I was walking around and Pete and Nancy told me to look down and then I saw a manhole from the NYC sewer system. There was also a subway car from NY in the mall with subway noises too. For a minute I wondered if I was in NY or Indonesia. Also from NY was the Rockefeller Center Statue of Atlas with a fountain and music too. And if that was not enough their were Broadway themed restaurants and posters. As we turned the corner there was also a section on Japan too. Here is an image of that.

The next two pictures are dedicated to Mike my brother-in-law's brother. One is of him with this huge Hulk statue in the Mall. As you can see it is so big that it is taller than one floor and extends past the second floor. The second picture is from a Puma shirt that Mike purchased. First, the shirt has a picture of an Island on the front of it but no one knew which Island it is. Mike thought it was of Indonesia, but it was not. Second, the shirt had this hilarious tag to it. As you can see "Wash this when Dirty"...duh! It was funny to me that the company would take the time to put something so obvious to me on it.

The next picture is from what could have been a great tour of the city. Once we got on the horses we realized that this was not so. First, the horses looked so malnourished and when you get into the cart it feels as though it is going to flip over. Second we were expecting to see Jakarta's National Monument - Monas- which essentially looks like the Washington Monument in DC with a flame on top. In reality we never saw the full monument except part of it through the trees. To the right is a picture of Monas that I took from the horses, it was the closest we got it the whole trip. The horse ride was definitely one of my sister's least favorite moments of the trip. The next two pictures are of two other sights in Jakarta. The one on the left the Permuda Statue - also known as the Pizza Man according to my Internet searches. I personally have called him the Fire Man. On the right is a picture of the welcome statue in front of the Grant Hyatt Hotel - a main hotel in Jakarta - we joked that is actually to welcome Pete and Nancy as a married couple.

Lastly here is a picture to express our time with Opa. The day we arrived in Indonesia Opa was sent to hospital. By the time this day came about Pete and I had caught a cold - thus we were not allowed to go into Opa's Room. We did not want to make him sicker or weaker that he was already. While we were waiting outside of Opa's room Pete and I decided to pray Evening Prayer together in the hallway. It was a one of the most memorable moments of the trip. As we were praying Nancy came to the door and asked us to pray louder because Opa could here us. It was such a gift to pray there and to pray for him. Also while we were praying a lady from the room across the hall asked if we were Christian and if we would pray for her daughter? After explaining to her that we did not want to pray in her daughter's room as to get her sick we prayed in the hallway with the Mom and the daughter's husband. This moment made me realize the power that prayer can have and how it can inspire others to pray.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

FIT and Procurator General Visitor

Today I blessed to have visited my biological brother in NY and to have a visit from a fraternal brother from Rome.  On the left you can see a picture of my brother (Alex) and his friend Arielle standing outside of FIT - Fashion Institute of Technology.  Alex is taking two summer classes there one about merchandizing and the other on the history of fashion.  Arielle has been taking classes at FIT for 2 years now.  We meet up for lunch today at Chipotle - would you expect anything less!  We bought our burritos and sat outside on one of the ledges around FIT - that is where Alex and Arielle eat lunch everyday.   The fraternal brother I met today is named friar Robert Lezohupski - try to saw that last name 5 times in a row.  He is a wonderful joyful friar originally from Poland and friends with friar Derek who is stationed at Most Holy Trinity full time.  To the right is a picture of the three of us.  Friar Robert works in the Procurator General Office in Rome and is a lawyer.  He speaks 7 languages English, Polish, French, Russian, Italian, Spanish, and thing the last one is Germany.  I thought trying to be trilingual was difficult.  He is a very smart yet down to earth guy and hopefully are paths will cross again.

Indonesia Part 2 - Bali

On Wednesday July 2nd for three days and two nights we went to Bali, Indonesia.  Oma's brother own's the MeliĆ£ Bali - Villas & Spa Resort in Bali and that is where we staying.  It is originally a Spanish hotel so you often heard English, Spanish, Indonesia and one time French spoken by the hotel staff.  When one first arrives in Bali and begins to walk around there is one thing he/she cannot miss: these square shaped palm branches with stuff inside of them.  These things are more than things but are offerings to the gods of Hinduism, over 93% of Bali's population adheres to Balinese Hinduism.  To the right is an example of an offering.  This offering is pretty simple but they can also be more elaborate.  Some of them have money on it, others have incense, and still others have simple flowers on it.  They were all over, so it was important not to step on them for that would be disrespectful.  You also saw many Hindu altars, to the left is an example of one with mango trees behind it.  This altar here has many offerings around as well as beautiful clothes draping it.

Our first big adventure in Bali was going to a Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary.  Upon entering the Sanctuary you can purchase tiny bananas to give to the monkeys to eat.  In this picture I am 
trying to feed one of them.  Me being ee tried to talk to the monkey, but as expected he or she did not listen.  Mike said that every time he was going to take a picture of me with the monkeys he waited for them to look at the camera, but they never did - I figure talking to them works then huh!   Essentially the Sanctuary is a huge tropical forest type place with walkways and tons of monkeys.  You saw them eating, carrying their babies, trying to make more babies, and oddly scrapping the cement floor with rocks as they rocked back and forth themselves.  They may seem cuddly and cute, but a monkey stole my sister's water bottle from her purse - luckily it was not her wallet.

Next are pictures involving the hotel. First is the view from one of our rooms.  Second is Pete and I on the hammocks. The
hammocks are not like the ones I am used to from America, when you are in these hammocks you feel as though you are in a cocoon or like you being wrapped like an ear of 
corn.  Third is a picture of the beach. I have to say it was nice to be on the beach and to relax.  There really where no waves though and I honestly expected the water to be this clear blue color like I see in commercials, but the water was not like that.  Overall it is cool that I can now way that I swan in the Indian Ocean.
On one of the nights we were in Bali we ate at this great
 restaurant on the edge of the beach watching the sunset.  On the right is a picture of us as we walked to the restaurant.  I just like that picture because you can see each person of our group.  The
next picture is one of my favorite pictures of the whole trip and is probably in the top ten of my favorite pictures that I have taken.  It is obviously right at sunset - with the Hindu altar in the foreground and the sky has this great orange color to it.  And of course here is a picture of my dinner, grilled salmon, with  asparagus, and some pretty good mashed potatoes.

Lastly Here is a picture of traditional Balinese Dancers.  They are dancers who resemble the belly dancers of Egypt.  I tried to take a video of them dancing, but every time anyone in our group picked up their camera the dancers stopped dancing and posed as you see.  It was great to watch them dance - the little that they did - it really demonstrated how dancing is art.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Some Reflection...

Yesterday marked my first Anniversary for my First Profession of Vows, July 21, 2007.  It is grace that I am still in love with the Lord, the Church, the Franciscan way of life, and the Friars that I have met.  I realized that when I was away from the common life of the friars for two weeks in the States and for two weeks in Asia - I was missing something.  I did not feel complete, yes it was fun, adventurous, memorable and I would not go back and change that. But, I have to say that I was aching to have common prayer, daily Mass, communal meals with my brothers, and sense of rhythm again.  It is good to be home!

Today is the Memorial of St. Mary Magdalene.  Here is the reading taken from Morning Prayer of the Litrugy of the Hours on this day -From the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans - "Brothers (and sisters too), I beg you through the mercy of God to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God, your spiritual worship.  Do not conform yourselves to the this age but be transformed by the renewal of the your mind, so that you may judge what is God's will, what is good, pleasing and perfect."

Just something to the reflection upon.  Personally it sounds so easy yet at times it can be difficult to live.  St. Mary Magdalene....Pray for Us!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Coptic Catholic Church

Yesterday (Sunday July 20) I went to the Coptic Catholic Church in Brooklyn New York for Sunday Mass (for the second time). As you may or may not know I was baptized in the Coptic Orthodox Church and received all three of the sacraments of Initiation - Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist. Every since I was in kindergarden I have gone to Catholic Schools for my education and subsequently attending Roman Catholic - Latin Rite - liturgies. It was not until entering the friars that I realized that when my family chose to become members of the Catholic Church we became members of the Coptic Catholic Rite not the Roman (Latin) Catholic Rite. This is because the Coptic Catholic Rite is closer to the Coptic Orthodox Rite of my baptism than is the Roman (Latin) Catholic Rite.

While I am stationed in Brooklyn, I wanted to take the opportunity to understand and be familiarized with the Coptic Catholic Church as I could. Brooklyn is the home of one of only two churches in all of the United States that are Coptic Catholic (the other is Los Angeles, CA). The Church in Brooklyn is called Resurrection Coptic Catholic Church. It was given this name because it was around the Feast of the Resurrection (Easter) in 1985 when this community took over a once Roman (Latin) Rite Church called St. Stanislaus. As you can see from the picture on the left, the paintings, stain glass windows, statues, and Stations of the Cross were all kept. The church has a very
Western Church feel to it but once the liturgy begins it is easy to see the Eastern Church side of the church. You can see in the picture on the right the beautiful icons of the East that is another way to draw one into both the humanity and the mystery of the Church. The Liturgy at this church is prayed mainly in Arabic but many of the prayers and the consecration are done in English.

I want share with you two parts of the Liturgy that I have come to appreciate. First is in the beginning of the Liturgy - I believe the first time the priest uses the incense - the people (in Arabic) sing "The Censer of gold is the Virgin, her amber is our Savior, she has given birth to Him, He has saved us, and remitted our sins." To me it is a wonderful image of incense, especially because it is used in the Liturgy so much. For them it truly is the rising up of our prayers to God. The second part of the Liturgy
that I have come to appreciate is the immense sense of mystery I had while I was participating in the Liturgy. It is so mysterious yet down to earth that you feel like you are at the heavenly banquet with Christ. I like to say "I am caught up in the Liturgy." I have no sense of time when I am there, essentially there is no time but God's time. It is difficult to describe.

This last picture is a close up the altar. That hexagon-shaped container on the altar is where the chalice and the patent are kept. You can see the microphone and the book used by the main celebrant during the Liturgy. If you have any questions feel free to ask aka post them and I will try to answer them the best way I can. God Bless!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Indonesia Part 1

Hello Everyone! I am finally posting pictures up from my trip to Indonesia. It is still a mystery of how I found about about this trip, why I ended up getting a ticket, and why in the world the friars allowed me to go to Asia! Any was an amazing trip. I left Friday June 27 (after the Assembly) from Philadelphia with Pete and Nancy at 4:05pm and arrived in Jakarta, Indonesia on Sunday June 29 at 1:15pm. This arrival was
after about 28 hours of flight time - not including layover time - and we missed Saturday June 28 all together. This trip to Indonesia was planned by my brother-in-law's family as a reunion for them. There were a total of 14 of Pete's family members - including Pete's grandfather (Opa) and grandmother (Oma) - gathered and then there was me - Pete's wife's brother. But it was fun! At the beginning of the trip 4 generations were present: grandparents, a son/daughters, grandchildren, and a great grandchild. I was particularly honored, blessed, and graced to lead the prayers before meals and especially praying for the family before we parted ways at the end of the trip. To the left is a picture of the Indonesian flag, the opposite of Poland's flag which is white on top and red on the bottom.

After arriving in Indonesia I soon realized that there always seems be traffic. And the driving is organized chaos but truly an art to say the least. To the right is a picture of only 10 of the hundreds of small motorcycles speeding around the city. Here we are waiting at a light while all the motorcycles drive on the side to get closer to the light. It is a pretty heavily polluted city so it is amazing to see some many people riding them; both girls and guys, sometimes two or three one bike, and children as well. Upon arrival in Indonesia we found out that Opa was sent to
the hospital that day and that 3 people were sick. It was a sad arrival but a very joyful departure because by that time Opa was home, the 3 people that were sick were not, Pete, Mike and I who greeted those sick people were now sick, and Nancy was the sole person who survived the two week adventure not being sick. Anyway to the left is a picture of where Dina, Ben, and Kiara (Pete's cousins), Nancy, Pete, and I lived for the majority of our trip. If you look outside the glass doors that walkway led to were I slept. On the left is a room with two twins beds, in the middle is a bathroom, and on the right is a room with a full bed. I call the that room the ice box room because it is only when sleeping in that room does one need a winter comforter while living in third world country in 90 degree heat.

I did take some pictures of Oma and Opa's house but I ruled them so that I could include others. Above are two pictures of Opa's trains. He loves model trains and he makes the trains, the tracks, and did the electric himself. Renata one of Opa's grandchildren helped with the design and the scenery (she was on the trip too). It is an amazing to see the detail in them, the passion behind them and to imagine the amount of time it took him to make them.

If there is anything I did most on this trip the next couple of pictures will show you: we went to the malls and we ate. We went to the mall practically everyday of this trip. On the left is a picture of the first mall we went to Pondok Indah Mall, as you can see Indonesians do not mess around with their malls. The malls are open to everyone to go in like in the States and I think there are so many because it is an air conditioned clean place to be in. I went on a little shopping spree when
I got there and bought two Polo shirts for $15 each and a Gap shirt and shorts. Needless to say it was difficult to not want to spend money in malls like this. On the right is a picture of Pete talking with you Oma. Oma is one of the cutest women you will ever meet. She goes to the malls with us but does not buy a thing, she comes to simply walk around. It probably was great to have her children and grandchildren around her helping her to walk about.
Next you will see a picture of the infamous durian - it is the smelliest fruit I have ever smelled and not in a good way. As some of you may know I usually breathe through my mouth and not my nose - let me tell that is a blessing when you are around durian. You always know when someone in a store has bought it, the smell is one of a kind. I not only smelled it, but during the trip I ate some of it. It was not my favorite, but it it is edible. Sue, Pete's sister loves the stuff - me on the other hand - not so much! Below you will see a picture of us at Korean BBQ - where you cook the food yourself, me at the Shangri-La Hotel where we ate lunch on day, and cooked ducks and chickens hanging - I know weird and kinda gross but at the same time delicious to eat.

Here are pictures of the many market places we went to in Indonesia. The wood carvings and the paintings were my favorite. If you visit me in San Antonio you can see an example of both in person, hint hint, wink wink, nudge nudge (just a thought). I also found this one wood carving of our Lady, I did not buy it though because it cost 5,000,000 Rupiah which is $5,000.

My first post about Indonesia would be incomplete without this picture. It is more than just a man doing construction it is a man doing construction above the bedrooms were Nancy, Pete, and I sleep. We woke up each morning to the glorious sound of hammering and nailing. It scared the be-Jesus out of me the first day but by the end of the trip it still was not a pleasant noise to wake up too. More to come....

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I am back!

In case you are unsure I am back from my month long hiatus from my summer assignment, praise God!  After a week with my family which was great - minus the fall - I went to the Assembly for the two East Coast Provinces of the Conventual Franciscans.  It was a grace to be a part of it and a blast to be with the friars.  From there I went to Indonesia for two weeks with my sister, her husband, and his family.  That too was a great trip, my first time in Asia, I could write a book about it; but for your sake I won't.  I will post some pictures from the trip and some of my adventures in the next couple of days.  I am now glad to be back to a normal routine in the Friary and the Parish in Brooklyn

Today I helped out with everyday things at the parish.  In the morning and afternoon I helped with some office organizing. In the evening I was honored to assist at a wake of one our parishioners and to be with the youth group.  And lastly we had a visit of two hamsters, cute as buttons, but they have sharp teeth.  That is what Manny one of the evening assistants at the Parish says.  I simply gave then water to drink and refrained from touching them.  Well until next time...Peace and All Good!

St. Bonaventure

Today is the Feast Day of St. Bonaventure.  He is a Franciscan Friar and a Doctor of the Church who lived from 1218 to 1274.  St. Bonaventure is known for his great prudence and wisdom.  His writings did much to illuminate the study of both theology and philosophy.  

Here is a selection from the Journey of the Mind to God by St. Bonaventure "For this passover to be perfect, we must suspend all the operations of the mind and we must transform the peak of our affections, directing them to God alone.  This is a sacred mystical experience.  In cannot be comprehended by anyone unless he surrenders himself to it; nor can he surrender himself to it unless he longs for it; nor can he long for it unless the Holy Spirit, whom Christ sent into the world, should come and inflame his innermost soul.  Hence the Apostle says that this mystical wisdom is revealed by the Holy Spirit."

In prayer this morning I felt called to share it with you.  May it be inspiring to you as it is for me!  St. Bonaventure....Pray for Us!

Monday, July 14, 2008

It is official...

...After 3 days of both fraternal and prayerful gatherings the Immaculate Conception and the St. Anthony of Padua Provinces have voted overwhelmingly - 86.5% to become one Province.  After years of ministering to the needs of German speaking Catholics (IC) and the needs of Polish speaking Catholics (SA) together both provinces will unite again as one to better serve the needs of the Church and to aid in building greater fraternity within the community.  For the past 40 years we have been dating, courting, and ministering with each other and now the much needed preparation for the "wedding" by 2014 can occur.   Below is a picture of the SA Provincial Michael Kolodziej, the Minister General of the whole Conventual Order Marco Tasca, and IC Provincial Justin Biase - also a picture of the the friars who were present at the Assembly.
Pray for Us!