Monday, February 28, 2005

Ways to keep what's happenning to Terri Schaivo and her family from happenning to you

I'm going to get exceedingly practical today.

There are things that every person of legal age can do that can help you get the care you want and need, and keep you safe from the interventions you neither need nor want.

For starters, study and pray. Learn what it is, in your depths, that you do want. Listen to serious discussions of medical ethics, such as those taking place right now that have been instigated by Terri's situation. Read some of the fine teaching documents that our Pope and our bishops have issued about the end of life. A particularly good and easy to read one is Now and at the Hour of Our Death, which the bishops of my state wrote several years ago.

Then, talk about it. Have serious conversations with your family and your friends about medical care, about disability, and about end of life issues. Not just a "by the way" reaction to some passing news item or TV drama, but actual conversation, discussion, even argument, about what and where and when and how. Hash out just what it is that you want and that you believe, and make sure that those who care about you, and those who are legally connected to you, like spouses and parents and sibs, know what they are and, if possible, how you got to them. Even if they don't agree with you --- in fact, ESPECIALLY if they don't agree!

You are NOT too young or too healthy to consider or talk about these things. Elderly will inevitably arrive, and Disabled is the one minority group that anyone can join at any time, involuntarily and without warning. If you are old enough to read my blog, you are old enough to start studying and thinking about and discussing these things.

Next, write down in a legal kind of way instructions for when you cannot give instructions, in one of the ways recognised by your country or state. In my state, there are two ways to do this, the Declaration to Physicians [pdf file], also called a "living will", and the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care [also pdf file].

Generally, Living Wills are a bad option. They by their nature define things too strictly and they do not establish anyone to make the judgment calls that pretty inevitably must be made. Then, by law, they must be followed even if the circumstances change. Also, most Living Will forms work from the presumption that one would rather not live. [Though some right-to-life groups have developed living will forms which support life support, such as this one from Wisconsin Right to Life.] However, if there are certain things that you know ABSOLUTELY that you want to keep from happening to you --- an example might be a Jehovah's Witness who absolutely doesn't want to be transfused. or someone who absolutely refuses any consent for surgery --- then the Living Will may be for you.

More generally useful, however, is the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. This document appoints one or two persons to make decisions for you when that time comes that you cannot do it for yourself, and gives some guidance and restrictions to them. Choose people that you trust, and who agree with you about end of life issues and the last things. If there are particular things you want or don't want, or particular instructions that your proxy needs to know, put them down. Mine states that if I need to be permanently institutionalized, that it be in a geographic region where I can be regularly visited by my relatives, and also states that continuation or discontinuation of life support should be only in accord with Catholic moral teaching. I chose two of my siblings who are most in agreement with me about both the Faith and the stage when it is time to let go. Choose people you trust. If that isn't your spouse or your parent and they think they ought to be, have that fight right now, while you can still stick up for yourself! And, at least once a year, read your Durable Power of Attorney and make sure it still reflects what you want and that you still trust the ones you chose --- and void it and make a new one if that is indicated. Don't let it moulder. [Your beloved fiance of 1998 could well be your abusive alienated ex in 2007 when you have that auto accident......] Keep it up to date, and make sure all your doctors have copies.

This is how you keep yourself from being the center of a legal tug-of-war when you become disabled or are approaching death

And, while you are thinking of end things, how about some basic funeral planning, making sure your kin knows where your plot is if you have one, maybe some basic instructions? And, a regular old will, so your children have a guardian you would want and your kinfolk don't fight over your stuff the morning after the burial .......

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Sure I caught MRSA and missed out on Call to Action

but my birthday is July 1st and I know exactly where I'd like to spend it. However, with registration and paratransit fares, it costs a small fortune, and I don't want to depend on there being charity passes distributed like the CTA did --- so I guess it's time to start pinching my pennies extra hard!

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

To be a Comadre (or Compadre)

I was reading the new Christian Carnival today (it's Wednesday so it must be Carnival Day!) and followed the wandering links into a comment string where someone was trying to make a negative comment by claiming that a certain Benedictine writer was the blogger's comadre. And it got me to thinking.

First of all, a compadre or comadre is a relationship term --- the parent of the person you sponsored in baptism, or the baptismal sponsor of your child, is your compadre or comadre. The two of you, or group of you, share a common care for another person.

I don't have any compadres or comadres according to this definition, and I'm not likely to --- I have no children, and my goddaughter is older than I am and her parents were long deceased by the time of her middle-age baptism.

But, aren't we all in a way co-parents? We each share in a true care for each other, there are no rugged individuals lone rangering, we support each other and care for each other and nurture each other to holiness. So, in a way the aforementioned Benedictine writer is my comadre, the founder of intentional community also mentioned in the comment is my compadre, and so are the people I go to Sunday Mass with, the ones I serve beside at the Open Door, my pastors, my bishops +Timothy and +Richard and +Rembert, and so many others. We have a common care for another, actually many others.

And the Works of Mercy, all 14 of them, is how we do it.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

In Church-speak, blogs are "means of social communication"

and as of yesterday, there's a new teaching document about us (and, of course, the rest of the "means" also). A sample:

Many challenges face the new evangelization in a world rich with communicative potential like our own. Because of this, I wanted to underline in the Encyclical Redemptoris Missio that the first Areopagus of modern times is the world of communications, which is capable of unifying humanity and transforming it into as it is commonly referred to 'a global village'.

The communications media have acquired such importance as to be the principal means of guidance and inspiration for many people in their personal, familial, and social behaviour. We are dealing with a complex problem, because the culture itself, prescinding from its content, arises from the very existence of new ways to communicate with hitherto unknown techniques and vocabulary.

Ours is an age of global communication in which countless moments of human existence are either spent with, or at least confronted by, the different processes of the mass media. I limit myself to mentioning the formation of personality and conscience, the interpretation and structuring of affective relationships, the coming together of the educative and formative phases, the elaboration and diffusion of cultural phenomena, and the development of social, political and economic life.

The mass media can and must promote justice and solidarity according to an organic and correct vision of human development, by reporting events accurately and truthfully, analyzing situations and problems completely, and providing a forum for different opinions. An authentically ethical approach to using the powerful communication media must be situated within the context of a mature exercise of freedom and responsibility, founded upon the supreme criteria of truth and justice.


Saturday, February 19, 2005

One Very Important Very Long Sentence

from the documents of the latest Ecumenical Council:

The Church, therefore, is very concerned that the Christian faithful not be present at this mystery of faith as outsiders or mute spectators,
but that, understanding the mystery through the rites and prayers,
they take part in the sacred action consciously, devoutly and actively,
that they be instructed by the word of God,
that they be nourished at the table of the Lord's Body,
that they give thanks to God,
that, offering the immaculate host
not only through the priest but with him,
they may learn to offer themselves,
and that, through Christ the Mediator,
they may be drawn day after day into more perfect union with God and with one another,
so that in the end God may be all in all.

------- Sacrosanctum concilium 48

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Christian Carnival is ready for visitors!

The Christian Carnival, a weekly roundup of posts from the entire Christian blogosphere, is now ready for your enjoyment at the Wittenberg Gate. {Please proceed directly through the gate......no cans, bottles, ......}

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

St. Ephrem's Great Prayer

via Eutychus Fell, a teaching on the Great Prayer of St. Ephrem and how it should shape our Lent. Here is the Prayer:

O Lord and Master of my life,
take from me the spirit of sloth,
lust of power,
and idle talk.

But give rather the spirit of chastity,
and love to your servant.

Yes, O Lord and King,
grant me to see my own errors
and not to judge my brother;
for Thou art blessed unto the ages of ages.


Sunday, February 13, 2005

To Keep a True Lent

by Robert Herrick [dots at line beginnings are not ellipses, they're the only way I know to make blogger display Heerick's spacing and indentations!]

Is this a fast, to keep
. . . . . . The larder lean ?
. . . . . . . . . . And clean
From fat of veals and sheep ?

Is it to quit the dish
. . . . . . Of flesh, yet still
. . . . . . . . . . To fill
The platter high with fish ?

Is it to fast an hour,
. . . . . . Or ragg’d to go,
. . . . . . . . . . Or show
A downcast look and sour ?

No ; ‘tis a fast to dole
. . . . . . Thy sheaf of wheat,
. . . . . . . . . . And meat,
Unto the hungry soul.

It is to fast from strife,
. . . . . . From old debate
. . . . . . . . . . And hate ;
To circumcise thy life.

To show a heart grief-rent ;
. . . . . . To starve thy sin,
. . . . . . . . . . Not bin ;
And that’s to keep thy Lent.


Saturday, February 12, 2005

Litany in a Time of War

via Traditional Catholic Reflections & Reports, a prayer we really need, written by (or under the authority of) Benedict XV during the First World War:

[of course, for private use only, must observe the niceties.....]

V. The Lord give you peace;
R. Peace and good will.

v, O Lord Jesus Christ, Who didst say to Thy Apostles, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you," look not upon my sins, but upon the faith of Thy Church, and vouchsafe to her that peace and unity which is agreeable to Thy will, Who livest and reignest, God forever and ever. R. Amen.

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy. Jesus hear us.
Jesus, graciously hear us.

By the hymn of the Angels at Thy birth,
Grant us peace.
By Thy salutation to the Apostles,
Grant us peace.
By Thy voice to the waves of Galilee,
Grant us peace.
By Thy blessing to the sinner,
Grant us peace.
By Thy prayers for unity among Thy disciples,
Grant us peace.
By the love that was to mark Thy followers,
Grant us peace.
By the great peace offering of the Cross,
Grant us peace.
By Thy parting promise, "My peace I leave you,"
Grant us peace.

From the ambition of empire,
Deliver us, O Lord.
From the greed for territory,
Deliver us, O Lord.
From the blindness that is injustice,
Deliver us, O Lord.
From the selfishness that is theft,
Deliver us, O Lord.
From the liberty which is license,
Deliver us, O Lord.
From the love of money which is idolatry,
Deliver us, O Lord.
From the hate that is murder,
Deliver us, O Lord.
From the hardness that will not pardon,
Deliver us, O Lord.
From the pride that will not ask pardon,
Deliver us, O Lord.

By the helpless cry of orphans,
We beseech Thee, hear us.
By the anguished tears of widows,
We beseech Thee, hear us.
By the groans of the dying,
We beseech Thee, hear us.
By the dead in unblessed graves,
We beseech Thee, hear us.

That Thou wouldst make all nations to dwell as one,
We beseech Thee, hear us.
That the hearts of rulers may be as wax in Thy hands,
We beseech Thee, hear us.
That having learned in affliction, we may turn to Thee,
We beseech Thee, hear us.
That wars may cease from the earth,
We beseech Thee, hear us.
By Thy title, "Prince of Peace," Lord God of Armies,
We beseech Thee, hear us.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Grant us peace.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Grant us peace.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, Grant us peace.

V. I am the Salvation of the people, saith the Lord;
R. In whatever tribulation they shall cry to Me, I will hear them.

Let Us Pray.

Jesus, meek and humble of heart, teach us, who have sinned against Heaven and before Thee, the saving grace of a true humility, that we and all the peoples of this world may acknowledge and bewail that spirit of materialism and self-seeking and lust for power and vengeance which has plunged the family of nations into war, until in Thy just wrath the world suffers that punishment which, by turning from Thee, it has brought upon itself. In humility and penance, may we lessen the guilt and hasten true peace, without victory, save the victory of union with Thee. R. Amen.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Have mercy on us.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Have mercy on us.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Have mercy on us.

Give peace, O Lord, in our days,
For there is none other that fighteth for us, but only Thou, Our God.

V. Let there be peace in Thy strength, O Lord,
R. And plenty in Thy strong places.

Let Us Pray.

O God, from Whom proceed all holy desires, all right counsels and all just works, grant unto us Thy servants that peace which the world cannot give, that our hearts may be devoted to Thy service, and that being delivered from the fear of our enemies, we may pass our time in peace under Thy protection, through Christ Our Lord. R. Amen.

Immaculate Queen of Peace, Pray for us.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Review of the virtual Anchor Hold's house rules

Once a couple of months ago and twice yesterday, I had to delete comments. I did promise all of you, my readers, that I would not delete any of my own archives --- even the embarrassing stuff or when I've changed my mind. No rewriting history. However, that does not mean that I have to put up with just anything!

There are some house policies. Just a short review.

Any email or other correspondence concerning the blog or its posts is bloggable. I don't do it often, and do normally withhold names, etc., unless I get clearance ..... but might slip up if someone gets vile, so be forewarned.

Comment spam is deleted asap. When I figure out how to ban commenters, spammers will be banned also.

Profane, obscene, lewd, vulgar comments are also deleted asap, same as spammers.

Comments will not be retained that violate Part Three, section two, chapter two, article eight, parts three and four of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This means that detraction, calumny, slander is not allowed, and neither is any comment claiming to reveal somebody else's sins or to disclose somebody else's trade secrets......

Thank you, and blog on!

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Happy Lent!

My perrennial Lenten reading for the past two decades has been The Lenten Spring: Readings for Great Lent, by Father Thomas Hopko. If I'd looked this up earlier to see the long shipping time, I would have posted this a bit earlier ---- but maybe your local public library can fix you up with a copy this season. It's totally worth the effort to find, read, and pray with.

Here's a sample: "Let Us Begin with Joy" [pages 12-15] [I've taken the liberty of inserting minimum references from the footnotes in brackets.]

Joy is at the heart of everything in the Christian life, and Great Lent is no exception. The hymns and verses of the church services call Christians to begin with rejoicing.

Let us not be sad.
Let us cleanse our faces with the waters of dispassion,
blessing and exalting Chrst forever. [first Friday matins]

Let us begin the Fast with joy.
Let us give ourselves to spiritual efforts.
Let us cleanse our souls.
Let us cleanse our flesh.
Let us fast from passions as we fast from foods,
taking pleasure in the good works of the Spirit
and accomplishing them in love
that we may all be made worthy to see the passion of Christ our God
and His Holy Pascha,
rejoicing with spiritual joy. [Forgiveness Sunday vespers]

Jesus commands all those who fast to be joyful. He condemns sadness and grief, especially the outward appearance of fasting before men. He orders His people to hide their sorrow and to cover their sadness over sin. He directs them to hide their acts of penitence, to keep their mortifications secret, to appear shining and bright to the world.

And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Mt. 6:16-18)

Sadness for Christians is a sin to be repented of --- not a virtue to be cultivated. Blessed mourning over the tragedies of this fallen world is possible. Those who mourn for this cause are promised comfort by the Lord. And godly grief over sins for the sake of leading us to conversion and repentance is possible. The apostle Paul refers to this in his second letter to the Corinthians.

....I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting; for you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret, but worldly grief produces death. (2 Cor. 7-9-10)

In the lenten season the Christian struggles to put aside all "worldly grief" and to embrace the "godly grief" which St. John Climacus calls the "blessed joy-grief of holy compunction," which inspires "spiritual laughter in the soul," since "God does not ask or desire that a person should mourn from sorrow of heart, but rather that out of love for Him he should rejoice with spiritual joy."

As I ponder the true nature of compunction, I find myself amazed by the way in which inward joy and gladness mingle with what we call mourning and grief, like honey in a comb. There must be a lesson here and it surely is that compunction is properly a gift from God, so that there is real pleasure in the soul, since God secretly brings consolation to those who in their hearts are repenting. [The Ladder of Divine Ascent]

These words of one of the severest of saints recall the teachings of St. John Cassian, who lived about three hundred years earlier.

The only form of dejection we should cultivate is the sorrow which goes with repentance for sin and is accompanied by hope in God. It was of this form of dejection that the apostle said: "Godly sorrow produces a repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret" (2 Cor. 7:10). This "godly sorrow" nourishes the soul through the hope engendered by repentance, and it is mingled with joy. That is why it makes us obedient and eager for every good work: accessible, humble, gentle, forbearing, and patient in enduring all the suffering or tribulation God may send us. Possession of these qualities shows that a person enjoys the fruits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, goodness, faith, self-control (see Gal. 5:22). But from the other kind of dejection we come to know the fruits of the evil spirit: listlessness, impatience, anger, hatred, contentiousness, despair, sluggishness in prayer. So we should shun this second kind of dejection as we would unchastity, avarice, anger, and the rest of the passions. It can be healed by prayer, hope in God, meditation on holy scripture and by living with godly people. [On the Eight Vices]

These lessons from the saints are the teaching of the Church herself in her services for the lenten spring. Repentance and joy, compunction and consolation, godly grief and spiritual rejoicing are joined together in perfect union in the person who fights for the Lord.

Receive Lent with gladness, O people!
The beginning of spiritual warfare arrives.
Forsake the indulgences of your flesh
that the gifts of the Spirit may abound in you.
Embracr your share of suffering, O soldiers of Christ!
Prove yourselves to be children of God!
The Holy Spirit will take up His abode in you
and your souls will be filled with His light. [Cheesefare Tuesday matins]

"Only one day," He said,
"is the life of those on earth."
For those who make the effort in love
there are forty days of the Fast
for us to accomplish with joy. [first Monday matins]


Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Update on Father Eleazar Perez

Father Eleazar is out of the hospital and recuperating out at Cousins Center. In a few months he'll be healed up enough for a prosthesis and walking lessons.

He and his doctors had a press conference a few days ago, and here's the article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Nobody knew the name her parents called her

not even her!

icon of Saint Giuseppine Bakhita

Today's saint, who would come to be called Giuseppine Bakhita, was born in a totally average family in rural Sudan in approximately 1869, and was kidnapped by slavers at about eight years old. Her kidnappers gave her the name Bakhita --- which means "fortunate, lucky." At the time that was a sick joke. She was sold repeatedly to various owners in the markets of El Obeid and Khartoum, and suffered all the standard evils, physical (beatings, malnutrition, neglect, scarification....), mental (forbidden to learn and "kept in her place"....), and moral (rape, molestation, coercion to service owner's sexual whims....).

Eventually, in her early teens, she was bought by an Italian diplomat and his wife to be an housemaid and cook. As owners go, these weren't very bad at all. They did not use the whip when giving orders. They would show her how they wanted things to be done. Neither of them insisted on sexual services. About as good as one could expect an owner to be. When the diplomat was recalled to Italy, Bakhita begged not to be sold, but to go with them. (Who could tell how the next owner would be?) So she went to Italy with them.

The diplomat's wife's best friend had a baby, a little girl named Mimmina, and Bakhita was given to the friend to be a babysitter-companion for the newborn. That family wasn't bad either. When Mimmina got to be school aged, her parents placed her in a boarding school run by the Cannossian Daughters of Charity, and Bakhita, of course, went with her as a maidservant. Expected to stay with Mimmina at all times, she began to learn the lessons Mimmina was being taught, reading and writing and arithmetic --- and, the Christian Faith, the first that Bakhita had ever heard it. Bakhita came to believe almost immediately, and eagerly sought even more instruction in the faith, and she was enrolled in the catechumenate. She also began to sense the first glimmerings of a calling to the religious life.

After a time, Mimmina's parents received an overseas diplomatic posting, and went to the boarding school to withdraw their daughter and take her, and, they totally presumed, Bakhita also, to their new African posting. But, Bakhita refused to go. She wanted to stay, and get baptised, and keep learning. With the backing of the Sisters, some of the Sisters' benefactors, and the local Catholic authorities, Bakhita's case to disobey her owners went to court, and it was ruled that, since slavery was illegal in Italy, that as soon as Bakhita was brought to Italy she was made free. Soon after, in January of 1890, she was baptised with the new name Giuseppine, and she remained under instruction at the school for several more years.

After a period of prayer and discernment, Giuseppine Bakhita entered the community of the Cannossian Daughters, making her vows in 1896. She served in the community as a seamstress and cook, and as the doorkeeper, and became noted as an intercessor. After her memoirs of her slavery days were published, she spend years on tour speaking to raise money for her community's missions. Eventually, her health declined, and she died on this date in 1947.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Great Lent begins on Wednesday

and, courtesy of the wonderful Catholic Herald, here are forty ways of improving it this year.

A few samples:

2. Pray for — by name — people you don’t like and for people that don’t like you.

4. Read a Catholic magazine every time you visit the library.

7. Find out why you should have fun on Laetare Sunday, and then do so.

9. Bring a “Baltimore Catechism” to a gathering of Catholic friends, and start asking each other questions.

14. Receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

18. Visit a church when you don’t have to.

30. Tell someone your story(ies) of faith, how God has made a difference in your life.

33. Fast from gossip.

And all the others are great, also. Welcome to the joyous season of Lent!

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

I'm honoring Candlemas and preparing for Pascha today

by ordering my candle for Easter Vigil!

Last year and the year before at Vigil I had to fend off lots of helpful people trying to hand me some new light. I'm only allowed to look, not to touch, or even get too near, lest my wheelchair be transformed to a chariot of fire --- one of the little inconveniences of using oxygen. But others don't notice that; I must wear my cannulas very gracefully.

So I was tooling around the Autom religious supply catalog, looking for crucifixes I could get for my future rosary-making, and saw --- battery-operated candles! Back in the day I would have just hollered "Abomination!" but now they just might be my solution. If I'm holding something tall and glowing, even if it's electric, maybe folk won't sense such a need to hand me an open flame!

One week till the joyous season of Lent.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Phyllis McGinley has a bit to say

about one of today's saints. Brigid of Kildare was wise and strong, a foundress and abbess given equal-to-the-bishops honor and authority in her own time, seriously scary-holy, a miracle-worker --- and a fool-for-Christ giveaway saint who couldn't be trusted not to give away anything she touched! Hence, Ms. McGinley's little meditation:

Saint Bridget was
A problem child.
Although a lass
Demure and mild,
And one who strove
To please her dad,
Saint Bridget drove
The family mad.
For here's the fault in Bridget lay:
She WOULD give everything away.

To any soul
Whose luck was out
She'd give her bowl
Of stirabout;
She'd give her shawl,
Divide her purse
With one or all.
And what was worse,
When she ran out of things to give
She'd borrow from a relative.

Her father's gold,
Her grandsire's dinner,
She'd hand to cold
and hungry sinner;
Give wine, give meat,
No matter whose;
Take from her feet
The very shoes,
And when her shoes had gone to others,
Fetch forth her sister's and her mother's.

She could not quit.
She had to share;
Gave bit by bit
The silverware,
The barnyard geese,
The parlor rug,
Her little
niece's christening mug,
Even her bed to those in want,
And then the mattress of her aunt.

An easy touch
For poor and lowly,
She gave so much
And grew so holy
That when she died
Of years and fame,
The countryside
Put on her name,
And still the Isles of Erin fidget
With generous girls named Bride or Bridget.

Well, one must love her.
In thinking of her
There's no denial
She must have been
A sort of trial
Unto her kin.
The moral, too, seems rather quaint.
WHO had the patience of a saint,
From evidence presented here?
Saint Bridget? Or her near and dear?

[from "The Love Letters of Phyllis McGinley," New York, Viking Press, 1957]