good news not so good, after all

Yesterday I did what was, I think, the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life: I had to tell my mom that when she leaves the nursing home she will probably need to go into an assisted living facility rather than be able to return to the little apartment she loves so much. She took it well–no tears, hysterics, etc.,–but I know her so well that the look on her face (which I could tell she was trying to control, probably to keep from upsetting me) told me exactly how devastated she felt.

Tomorrow we have a “care conference” scheduled with her social worker, physical therapist, nurse practitioner, etc., to discuss her discharge planning. I’m hoping that maybe–a big maybe–she could stay in her apartment and just have more help come in on a daily basis, like home health care aides, that kind of thing, but I’m not sure she could manage even then. I just don’t know; everything’s up in the air right now. The bottom line is that her heart and lung problems are making it impossible for her to recover at the rate she (and I) were hoping.

So please know that if I seem out of touch or something that it’s not that you guys don’t matter to me anymore. I’m just so overwhelmed; my depression is kicking in and I’m so weepy I can’t seem to get anything done. I guess I’m saving up all of my energy so that I can be strong when I’m with my mom.

Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow; the same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow, and everyday. Either God will shield you from suffering, or God will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace, then, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations
–St Francis de Sales

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stewardship prayer

I found this terrific prayer on the Basilica of St. Mary’s website. It’s an especially nice one to remember this Christmas season:

Stewardship Prayer

Christ has no body now but ours, no hands but ours Here on this earth ours is the work, to serve with the joy of compassion

Christ has no hands but ours to heal the wounded world, no hands but ours to soothe all its suffering, no touch but ours to bind the broken hope of the people of God

No eyes but ours to see as Christ would see, to find the lost, to gaze with compassion; No eyes but ours to glimpse the Holy Joy of the city of God

No feet but ours to journey with the poor, to walk this world with mercy and justice Ours are the steps to build a lasting peace for the children of God

Saint Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)

discernment

So here’s my prayer for the day:

Lord, teach me to be generous,
Teach me to serve you as you deserve,
to give and not count the cost,
to fight and not heed the wounds,
to toil and not seek for rest,
to labor and not ask for reward,
save that of knowing that I do your will.
–St. Ignatius of Loyola (founder of the Jesuit order), The Spiritual Exercises

When someone is given a great deal, a great deal will be demanded of that person;
when someone is entrusted with a great deal, of that person even more will be expected.
(Luke 12:48)

Or to paraphrase, what Fr. Neenan (good Jesuit that he is) said to begin my Boston College orientation: “To whom much has been given, much is expected.” (The Jesuit mantra, at least the B.C. Jesuits!)

This has been on my mind a lot lately. I’ve believed this for years. But belief is one thing, putting that belief into practice is another. Please pray for me as I struggle with the question of how. How do I use my gifts (for I know that I have been very, very blessed) in a responsible way, in spite of my physical, etc. limitations? How do I discern what God’s call is for me today?

“The greatest glory of God is the human person fully alive.”
–St Ignatius of Lyons (or Antioch? I don’t remember!)

the please and thank you prayer

Three years ago today my friends Emilie and Steve were married at St. Luke’s Catholic Church in St. Paul, MN. Happy Anniversary guys!!!! I met Emilie and Steve through a mutual friend–Steve’s brother Bruce, in fact–the same day I met my husband. Little did I know that day that less than two years later we’d all wind up married!
Their wedding was absolutely beautiful (how could it not be, with Emilie as the bride?) and I felt very honored when they asked me to read. (My reading was from the Song of Songs; luckily for me, not the one about the leaping gazelle, so I was able to keep a straight face.) What I remember most clearly, however, is the “please and thank you prayer” for married couples Fr. O’Connell recommended during his homily. Take a quiet moment together and light a candle. Each person in turn asks God for an intention, then each mentions one thing for which they are grateful. That’s it; very simple (which, of course, is the beauty of it). Praying together does a lot to bring couples closer to each other and to God, and the two elements of the prayer remind us what really matters in our lives together.
Now, if I could just get George to do it with me…

*sigh*

This is Steve and Emilie with George and me last New Year’s Eve:

prayer for peace


Sometimes we learn of our loved ones deepest feelings by the things they leave behind, particularly if they have traveled lightly. My dad, unlike me, was a person of few words, not inclined to wear his emotions on his sleeve. He didn’t talk much about the war, except to share a few bits and pieces here and there, mostly funny stories; in fact the one time he really opened up to me about his experiences was the Memorial Day I wrote him the letter, when he told me about a good buddy of his who was blown up by a land mine in France–the only time in my life I ever saw my father cry, other than when my grandma died.

So, after he died, when I discovered the following prayer–along with an old missal, his rosary, my letter, and assorted old photographs, including a number from the war–it told me a lot about the the scars the war had left.

God of power and mercy,
In the midst of conflict and division,
we know it is you who turn our minds to thoughts of peace.
Your Spirit changes our hearts:
enemies begin to speak to one another,
those who were estranged join hands in friendship,
and nations seek the way of peace together.

Protect us from violence
and keep us safe from the weapons of war.

This we ask though the Prince of Peace,
our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you
and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.
(Based on the Eucharistic Prayer for Masses of Reconciliation II)
Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis

My dad was once a crack shot; he qualified as a rifle expert in the Army and, being a farm boy, hunted frequently before he was drafted into the service. Yet after he came home he never picked up a rifle again. As he told me, “Once you’ve seen what a gun can do to a human being, you just don’t want to ever look at one again.”

It’s good to remember that all combat veterans sacrifice for their country; it’s just that in some cases, the wounds aren’t visible on the outside. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t there, and that the suffering isn’t real. My father had nightmares and insomnia all his life, and when I was a chaplain intern I worked with WWII vets who, more than 50 years later, still had flashbacks of concentration camps and landings on Normandy Beaches, desolate Christmases in the Ardennes and firey Pacific Islands, haunted by unimaginable horrors that could not be put to rest.

So if you (if anyone is actually reading this) happen to meet a WWII vet–or any vet at all–say thanks. Believe me, it will mean the world to them.

 

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