Thursday, August 16, 2018

Marching like ants?

Like clockwork, every year in the spring we develop an ant problem in our kitchen.  We never know if they are going to be tiny little ants, or big black ones, but either way, they are not welcome.  (I should preface all this by saying that I have an aversion to big crawly things.  When they pursue me in the basement as I sit comfortably watching TV, they quickly learn what it feels like to be swept up in a tornado via my vacuum.)

Anyway, this year we had the big black ants.  They made a straight line from one corner of our kitchen to the other.  Mindlessly following each other, their little path led them to the sweet poison that we put out so that they would gorge themselves and take it back to their nest and die.  Occasionally one would get a little off track, but mostly they were like little soldiers, walking in lockstep.

I know this all sounds ever so tragic, but there is a happy ending, unless you are an ant, of course.

I decided to outsmart them.  I moved the wastebasket that was their original foodie destination across the kitchen.  It took them about five minutes to find it.  So, out to the garage the wastebasket went (a great inconvenience to us, I might add.) 

Fortunately, when we returned from vacation, our problem was solved! (See, happy ending for us!) But then the other day one lone ant was found traversing our family room carpet.  I decided to name him Jerry, but honestly, Jerry did not live long enough to enjoy his new identity--thanks to my husband. 

All this stuff about ants makes me thing about all of the criticisms people level against members of the Church.  We are told that we leave our brains at the door; that we mindlessly follow the Pope, etc., etc.  Nothing could be further from the truth. 

You see, we believe that as the Vicar (representative) of Christ on earth, the Pope is a holy man, but as a human, he himself is not free from sin (that’s why he goes to confession.)  

If a Pope were to make an *infallible statement that requires our assent, there are certain protocols that must be followed in his doing so.

It is good for people of faith to question things.  It is how we learn.  It does not imply unfaithfulness, but reflects the genuine human struggle to understand and follow the truth.

Unlike those ants in my kitchen, marching mindlessly to their death, we hope to be journeying wholeheartedly to heaven!

If you are one of those people that like to dig deep into things, maybe you will like this article, which is quite clarifying in regards to papal infallibility: 

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Have a blessed day! 

Janet Cassidy

*An infallible statement is a definitive statement of doctrine on faith and morals.  Two such formal statements have been made throughout the Church's history--both about Mary, the Mother of Jesus.  They reflect long-held beliefs in the Church.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

A Catholic bishop's heartfelt response . . .

Here is a statement from the Bishop of Lansing, Earl Boyea, about the removal of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

I am writing this to you due to the recent removal of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick from ministry. Once again, the sins of a cleric have hurt victims, scandalized the faithful, raised anger in many hearts, and brought ill-repute upon the Catholic Church. Archbishop McCarrick’s abuse of minors, his homosexual activity, and his abuse of seminarians and young priests are beyond the pale.

In addition, some knew about this and did nothing to address his behavior. I am as shocked as you.

So, first of all, I apologize for his behavior and the behavior of those who did nothing to stop him. It is incredibly wearying and demoralizing to hear yet again about these sexual sins and alleged crimes.

Let us hold each other in prayer.

As you may know, each bishop is ultimately responsible to the Holy Father, who is the only one who can remove him. Still, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops will be discussing how we bishops might attempt to hold one another accountable, given this limitation. I can never give a guarantee that there will not be other clerics who violate their promise of celibacy and abuse their positions. We are all sinners. The Lord Jesus knew what the archbishop did just as he knows our sinful selves as well.

Beyond what we can do as human beings to address the behavior of one another, we also commend ourselves and each other to the charity and justice of our God. Christ is our hope in all things. May God have mercy on us all.

Bishop Earl Boyea, Diocese of Lansing

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Feeling guilty about using a nursing home? Read on . . .

My mom went into a nursing home about three years ago.  She went to the hospital and was never able to return to her home.  It was up to us kids to sell or distribute all of her personal belongings, including the house.  One of my brothers always said the day would come when we would drive by mom’s house—our house—and we would see little kids playing in the yard.

Well his prediction came true.  I drove by her house several months after it was sold and saw a child sitting in the window—in our window—above where the couch always was.  What was he doing sitting beneath the window sill that always held mom’s pretty glassware that sparkled in the sun?

The memories are powerful.  Good, solid memories made over 50+ years. It always broke my heart that she was not able to return to our house.  She was too weak to walk up the handful of stairs into her kitchen.  Her legs could not support her anymore.  She was not strong enough to live alone.  A nursing home was our only choice and one she has come to accept.

It’s interesting that she accepted it because she always said she would never move.  But, as it turns out, she has much more social time than she would have had at home, sitting alone, waiting for one of us kids to visit.  She has made many friends and enjoys weekly “bingo” games.  She knows the staff so well that one might think she is one of them!

Maybe you have found yourself in a similar situation, where it seems the dreaded nursing home is your only solution.  Maybe you are riddled with guilt over making the decision. If you are able to keep your parent in their home (or yours), that can be a wonderful thing.

But there are times when that is not in the best interest of the parent/child or spouse. Too many husbands and wives try to care for each other at home, when they are not physically able to, compromising their own health or that of their loved one, often because they made a promise to them that they cannot bear not keeping.  Promises can be made with the best of intentions, but some promises need to be adjusted.  Faithfulness and devotion to a loved one can still take place, even in a nursing home.

I know it is not home, and there are more limited choices regarding food and other things, but it does not have to be so terrible.  We have come to know the staff of our mom’s nursing home, not to mention the other residents and even some of their families.  It seems that a community has formed in the home.

Is it perfect?  No.  Do we have complaints now and again?  Of course.  But, it is what it is.  As I said, sometimes families are just not able to take care of their elderly relatives (and sometimes the elderly do not want them to.) Also, it may be better in some situations for the parent and their adult children to continue the parent-child relationship, rather than create a patient/caregiver relationship.

But, in the end, the one thing that is most disturbing are residents who have no one.  There are lots of reasons why people do not have visitors, but a lack of concern by family members is the most heartbreaking thing to witness. If you do find it necessary to have your loved one live in a nursing home, just be sure not to abandon them there.  They still need strong family advocates, as well as someone to just sit and talk and listen to their concerns.

And about that guilt, a wise priest told me one time to decide what is doable in terms of weekly visits, and then commit to that.  In that way, we can continue to carry out our responsibility to other family members who may need us as well.

Accompaniment is an important part of love.  Walking with each other is what we are called to do.  I am thinking of the mother of Jesus and how throughout his life she walked with him.  Her role wasn’t to take away his suffering, but to be there with him in it.

What a perfect model we have in Mary, the mother of Jesus.  As we celebrate her feast day on August 15th, let us be grateful for a wonderful mother who continues to be our advocate, even today.

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God bless,

Janet Cassidy