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Dr. Arthur Caliandro passed away peacefully in his sleep at age 79 on Sunday morning, December 30, 2012.

The entire Marble Collegiate Church community mourns the passing of Dr. Arthur Caliandro. Dr. Caliandro served as Senior Minister of the prominent church from 1984 to 2009. He passed away peacefully on December 30, 2012.

In the fall of 1984, Dr. Caliandro succeeded Dr. Norman Vincent Peale as Senior Minister of Marble Collegiate Church and was formally installed on March 8, 1985. During his time at Marble, he created many innovative initiatives including bringing women into the ministry, founding an interfaith partnership of Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders, and starting a program ministry to serve the LGBT community. A dynamic music ministry flourished, and a speaker series featuring renowned public figures drew audiences that might not otherwise enter a church. Through Dr. Caliandro’s leadership, Marble supported a number of progressive outreach and service organizations. The annual Easter Offering helped build a church in Budapest and funded a college education for a grade school class in Harlem.

Dr. Caliandro had an uncanny ability to listen intently, not only as a pastor attending the needs of an individual, but with a common-sense approach to problem-solving solutions for the greater community. And, as such, he became known as “the people’s minister.” During his tenure at Marble many well-known figures shared their personal experiences including Michael J. Fox, Brian Williams, Lesley Stahl and Peter Jennings.

“Arthur was a precious gift to the people of Marble and to people all over the world and will be sorely missed,” says Dr. Michael Brown, Senior Minister, Marble Collegiate Church.

He is survived by his wife Sandra Graham Caliandro, his son Paul and his grandchildren Christopher, Nicholas, Isabella, Nils and Claudia. His son Charles predeceased him.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made to the Dr. Arthur Caliandro Memorial Fund for Music and Media Ministry.

 

A Memorial Service for Dr. Arthur Caliandro will be held on Saturday, January 26, at 3:00pm at the Marble Collegiate Church, 1 West 29 St. New York, NY 10001 212.686.2770. The service will be live streamed at http://www.marblechurch.org.

To read The New York Times obituary for Dr. Caliandro, click on the following link:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/04/nyregion/arthur-caliandro-79-progressive-minister-at-marble-collegiate-church.html?_r=0

 

Your comments, remembrances and tributes are welcome.

 

I don’t know what to say. I just don’t know what to say. It seems like it’s every week now that somebody irresponsibly has a gun or guns and uses them indiscriminately to kill.

I don’t know what to say because Americans who are great caregivers, who are compassionate and empathetic, aren’t coming together to say “enough.”

There is no argument or discussion when it comes to gun ownership. In my opinion, as a nation we are crazed.  After a shooting, we talk about gun control. But we never talk about the sanctity of human life. We make our emotional adjustments and move on, but the law protects practically anyone who wants to buy a gun.

One can get as much ammunition as one can afford, as if we are a nation at war and need ammunition to repel the enemy.

Can we not come to the place where we get our priorities straight and consider the sanctity of human life? Can we not focus on just gun control but on peace? Jesus’ teachings extraordinarily deepen that thought. Can we not follow and commit ourselves to Jesus’ teaching, as very profoundly he said, “Those who live by the sword, die by the sword.” That is so true. But that’s the way we choose to live. The entire bible is all about people living in peace with one another;  but I say it again, most important is the sanctity of human life and weapons should have no priority.

We will mature and become socially responsible when we get to the point where private ownership of guns is no longer a part of life. It’s the human heart, the human soul, and the human psyche which commands our loyalty and support.

One of my heros since childhood is Mahatma Gandhi. He was a man who lived a life of peace. He was a man of peace, whose commitment to human beings loving and forgiving one another changed and controlled his world. He alone prevented India and England from going to war. The prayer of every day for us should be:

Let there be peace and let it begin with me.”

I decided for my next blog post, I would write about being patient. I have struggled and struggled with the idea and didn’t find anything substantive to write about. The more I thought about patience, the more impatient I became.

Then I had an idea. I remembered that in my first book, Make Your Life Count, I included a chapter on patience.  Before reading it, I wondered if it would be anything worthwhile. I found that there was good material, relevant to everyday life. The title of the chapter is “Have Patience –and Persistence.” Most important of all was the fact that I needed this chapter to help me get through a rut. It made sense to me to include the whole chapter. I hope it rings as true to you as it did to me.

Most celebrations are special and this one was no exception. There were no decorations, fireworks, or crowds of people. It was only a quiet lunch in an ordinary restaurant in New York City, and there were just the two of us – Gene, tall and angular with graying hair, smartly dressed in blue blazer and red-and-blue-striped tie, and myself. Despite the simplicity, it was an event I shall always remember because of what I saw and heard that day.

After we found a table and placed our orders, Gene began to speak, in characteristic short, clipped sentences.

“Arthur, you’ve known me for a long time,” he said. “During most of that time, my life has been a struggle. Before I met you, I’d made and lost my fortune. And when I came to New York, I had to start all over again.” He glanced down momentarily, then faced me again.

“Do you remember the first time we had lunch together?” he asked. “I do because of how uncomfortable I felt. I didn’t have enough money to pay for the meal. And as you talked, I kept wondering whether you’d pick up the check. You can’t imagine how relieved I was when you did!”

“That wasn’t the only time I was broke. Many times during the last three years, I’ve lived from hand to mouth, not knowing where my next meal would come from. But things are different now. My business is doing very well, and so am I. So let’s celebrate!”

Things certainly were different now for Gene, I agreed. This cheerful, relaxed man didn’t look anything like the fidgety, preoccupied person who’d sat across the table that day three years ago and told me about his plans. In a relatively short amount of time, Gene had completely rebuilt his life.

“How did you manage to come so far in only three years?” I asked.

Gene’s answer was simple and straightforward. “I found out that if you know what you want, and what you want is right for you, you need only go after it. Stick with it even when the going is rough, and in time it will come. That’s the principal I’ve applied. But I don’t think I could have made it without regular worship and prayer. The spirit of my church helped keep me motivated. I guess you can say that I made it by the power of God.”

What Gene was describing, the attitude that had worked so well for him, was nothing more than faith and persistence – his strategy for getting back on his feet. The same formula that Gene used will get results for anyone else who earnestly tries it. Determine what you want. Make sure it is right for you. Be sure it is spiritually sound; ask God’s blessing on it. Then, patiently and persistently, pursue your goal!

Persistence and patience pay off in productivity and in personal growth. Each new challenge brings another opportunity for both.

I once saw a very vivid example of success through patient persistence by a most unlikely character – in a most unlikely place. It was at a campground in the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming where my family and I were camping one summer.

Our camp was located in one of the most beautiful spots I have ever seen, a little area called Leigh Lake. The lake itself was no more than two-and-a-half miles long and a mile across at its widest point. Trees were everywhere, and the view looked as it must have looked ten thousand years ago – fully developed by God and virtually untouched by man.

Across the lake rose the snow-covered peaks of Mount St. John and Mount Moran, and above them all the Grand Teton. The majestic pinnacle of the Teton’s highest peak towered 13,776 feet into the sky, a hundred feet higher than Switzerland’s famed Jungfrau. The sky was clear blue, and you could see it, together with the mountains, reflected in the cold, still water of the lake.

At that early hour of the morning, the only other creatures I took notice of were the birds, a tiny chipmunk looking for crumbs near the ashes of last night’s fire, a few other reluctant campers a good distance down the lakeshore, and a solitary black ant.

The little insect walked in front of my foot, his legs moving in a quick, easy rhythm. I had really never watched an ant before, but I recalled that the Bible mentions the ant several times. Ants are supposed to be wise, resourceful, and very highly organized socially.

I thought it would be interesting to test this insect’s wisdom and resourcefulness. First I made a little hill in the sand. It must have seemed like a mountain to the ant. He walked along without breaking stride and went right up the hill and down the other side. Then I dug a little hole to make a valley across his path. He went down the valley and, again without stopping, marched up the other side. Next I took a stone and put it in front of him. He tried to climb the stone, struggled a bit, fell back, reconsidered the situation, then walked around it.

This little ant was passing some tough tests. I decided to try one more obstacle. I put a twig in front of him. He struggled with the twig until he also found a way over it.

During all those trials, what did that little ant do? He kept moving. At no time did he stop and consider himself to be in bad circumstances. He did not complain. I did not see him go to another ant and tell him how bad things were. Nor did he go to the government of the ant colony and ask it to solve his problem. That little ant knew what his task was. He saw every obstacle only as another challenge, and he continued to move through each obstacle until he arrived at his goal.

This little creature gave me an impressive lesson in persistence and patience. He knew how to do only one thing – to keep on going. He was never overwhelmed by the obstacles. And he didn’t give in to feelings of fatigue. He seemed to realize it would take time and effort to get to his destination, and he kept going, patiently and persistently. To me, his patient persistence made the difference.

People who patiently persist, undaunted by obstacles, usually get ahead – and grow as they go. Their lives count!

> > Excerpt from: Make Your Life Count by Arthur Caliandro

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A Road Map

There are two lessons I learned which are amazingly simple and have made an enormous difference on how I live my life. These lessons are straight forward, easy to understand and enormously powerful if properly understood.

The first comes from three words of one of the greatest books of our time. Author Scott Peck, an enlightened psychiatrist who combined faith and mental health in remarkable ways, used these three words in the beginning of his book, “The Road Less Traveled”:

Life is difficult!

This is something many of us do not want to admit, but just think of your years of living and how much difficulty you have encountered.

I tried to avoid this reality for years and finally came to a place in my life where I had to say, “Yes, Arthur, this is a part of being alive and being human.” Scott Peck helped me deal with this reality.

The second lesson Scott Peck wrote was in the sequel to “The Road Less Traveled” which he entitled “Further Along the Road Less Traveled.” Again, the first three words hit me like a perpetual ton of bricks:

Life is complex.

This is something many of us know but are hesitant about confirming. Life is very complicated. No matter how smart we are or how long we live, it is indeed complex. We are striving to keep it simple, but it is a very difficult thing to achieve.

Let me add another short piece of reality to see if it makes sense to you. It’s a lesson I learned from a professor that I had in graduate school. His words of wisdom have stuck with me forever.  He said, “Life is a series of problem-solving situations.” He’s right – it really is. When you wake up each morning it’s a new set of challenges.

Our simple directions are to see life as a series of problem-solving situations. This is a dose of reality indeed. The more successful we are at working life’s experiences, the better our life journey will be.

I wish you well as you face the complexities and joys of life – and each day you will be much better off because of your wise living. You can make a tremendous difference in your life and the lives of the people around you.

God Bless!

This past Easter Sunday as I was waking up, I turned the radio on and was listening to a Christian Science broadcast. They were discussing Easter and all its possible meanings. I have never been involved with the Christian Science religion, but have always respected their awareness of God and the healing powers they focus on.

A man was being interviewed and was asked what Easter meant. I personally believe Easter is about hope – and as you know, hope can be very powerful. Hope is the last thing to go – and when hope is gone, there is not much left to motivate a person.

The spokesperson who was doing the interviewing on this program said that Easter was a “fresh new approach to faith.” As he spoke, I thought of hope as a fresh new start. In a sense, you could say it made my day.

People who display any degree of faith really are people hoping that change will come and something wonderful will happen. I have thought this through the years and I have asked numerous people what they think is most important: faith, love or hope.

Of course, love is most important and most powerful. But what is next in line? Many people say faith. But I put hope above faith. A person can live a long lifetime without faith, but you do not go very long without hope. Hope is a bridge to something greater. Hope is a connection with many possibilities. Even a little bit of hope can help a person bridge over deeply troubled waters. So to me, Easter is hope and is all about the hope which keeps us going but also enables us to keep growing.

May this Easter continue to bless you all year long – and may you see hope as a fresh new start for your future.

Bless You.

The Other Side

We’re shaken again by an untimely death. This time it’s lovely song bird Whitney Houston. What happened? What happens now?

The older I get, the more mysterious life and death seem to be. We understand so little about death and yet it happens to everyone. We really don’t know what happens on the other side, but there is much spiritual activity going on.

Several years ago, my younger son died very suddenly. I found myself doing something I have never done before: I prayed for the dead. For one full year, I prayed for my son every day because something inside me was telling me that he had not passed over to the other side. I had a strong uneasy feeling my son had some work to do before making that transition.

When I was a child, my Roman Catholic friends would talk about many things that Catholics do but Protestants do not. I thought their idea of praying for the dead did not make sense, but I found myself caught up in the need to pray for my son and his soul. The older he got, the more troubled he was. He had a very difficult time dealing with the reality of life as an adult. This carried over into his death. I felt compelled to pray for him until he made that transition. I had no idea how long it would take and how it would work. Slowly I began learning to trust God and face the mystery of life and death.

One day I received a telephone call from an old friend who was deeply spiritual and seemed to have divine connections. My friend said to me, “I had a dream about your son Chuck last night – and in the dream he told me to call you and tell you that he is alright.”  Two nights later, I also had a dream about my son. He was sitting in a boat, one similar to a lifeboat. It was not unusual to see Chuck in a boat because his whole life was about boats and he worked many years as ferry boat captain. I saw my son in my dream, sitting in the center of this lifeboat in a very upright position. He did not move his head or say anything. He just sat there looking straight ahead. The boat was caught in mud flats. Slowly the boat began to inch its way through the mud flats, and finally reached the open water. Then suddenly the boat picked up speed and in a moment’s time was out of my sight completely. I woke up and had the feeling that Chuck had made the transition and he was alright. I never felt the need to pray for him again; he was completely in God’s hands.

What this has done for me has given me further proof that life goes on and death is not the end. This is only one experience and we have so much to learn and so much more growing to do. I hope that by telling you this story about someone that was close to me, it will help explain some of the mystery of death.

Bless you as you continue your journey in the ever exciting movement of the spirit.

Secret Silence

Would you agree that we Americans have become addicted to noise?

We always want to turn up the volume. This high volume of sound we surround ourselves with has such an effect on our mind, body and soul. We need to learn how to be quiet. We need to discover the secret of silence.

A number a years ago I spent my vacation traveling in England. One night I stayed in a 400-year-old country inn. That night as I was preparing for bed I was aware of such a silence! The windows were open but not even the sound of a cricket. There was no hum of a refrigerator or air conditioner, just complete quietness.

This was so exciting to me. I thought I was going to have such a peaceful sleep. But when I got into bed, I discovered my body was tense and tight. It was as if someone were beating drums in the next room. I realized I was uncomfortable with the silence and needed to do some work on being quiet. I made it my personal priority to do so and after several months of trial and error, I learned how to treasure quiet moments and the importance of them. Now when I walk through my New York apartment, I don’t immediately turn on the radio or television. It’s nice to just have some silence… it’s important to my soul.

There are two scriptures that helped make an impact on my inner self. One is the tenth verse of Psalm 46 which reads, “Be still and know that I am God.” By repeating that over and over again, it has made a big difference in my life. God is in the silence. Absolute quiet is being open to the influence and movement of the Spirit. We can know God best in stillness. Say it over and over again:

Be still and know that I am God.”

The other scripture verse is from the 23rd Psalm: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul.” That verse has a natural impact on me. Whenever I can imagine being in the midst of still waters, I am reminded of the wonder and healing effect of those peaceful waters.

I commend these verses to you and suggest that you make them a part of your thinking every day. Before you know it, you will treasure the benefit from the quietness and stillness.

God Bless.

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