The Smile

One of the most precious aspects of my job is “bearing witness” at the foot of the cross. It is a sweet sorrow, lending comfort and prayerful presence,and most usually painful. But every so often I witness a piercing of the veil between heaven and earth, and experience a descent of the divine spirit of love, and can’t believe my good fortune.

Last weekend I was present for one of those delightful moments.  The patient was an elderly gentleman from Pakistan who hovered very near death. Just the day before, his family told me they were anxiously awaiting the arrival of his granddaughter from out-of-state.  “He loves her so!” they told me. “We just hope he knows she’s here.”

When I arrived the next day to check on him, I found the beloved granddaughter sitting beside his bed, holding his hand. He appeared unresponsive. The granddaughter moved out of the way to the other side of the bed, leaned down and softly said, “Dada, the nurse is here.”

He opened his eyes, and a look of shocked wonder washed over his face.

“How ARE you?” He asked, grinning with delight.

“I’m fine, Dada; how are you?”

“How ARE you!” he exclaimed. It wasn’t a question anymore. It seemed to be a proclamation of her presence..

The granddaughter laughed gently. “I am fine; the question is – how are YOU?”

“How ARE you!” he said, again and again, practically wriggling with delight.

That man’s beatific smile is seared into my memory. Over the last three days it comes to mind at the oddest times, and leaves me warmed with delight.

As I write this, my husband, his siblings and beloved grandchildren hold vigil hundreds of miles away by the ICU bed of their patriarch. I pray that he will recognize their presence, and that they will feel his spirit smiling on them as well.

Traveling mercies, Pop, and Godspeed.


Grieving For My Country, Trusting In My King

All elections have consequences.

Now Obamacare will be fully implemented, and there will be rationing. I expect my job to become increasingly difficult, as hospice becomes the only choice for people declared unworthy of the expense of treatment.

The HHS mandate will levy such insurmountable fines that Catholic hospitals and charities, maybe even universities, will shutter their doors. Next year!

But overshadowing all of that, this election was a major victory for the culture of death. And It was a wake-up call for those of us who held whatever tiny sliver of hope that politics would get us back on track.

One day, those who come after us will shake their heads, as we do over the German people’s support of Hitler. “What were they thinking?” they’ll ask. The numbers can’t help but make them dizzy. 50 million abortions since 1973. And we’ve just re-elected the most pro-abortion president on record. (Before he was elected the first time, we knew he couldn’t bring himself to vote for a law requiring doctors to render aid to babies who survive abortions.) Evidently, forcing states to fund planned parenthood (a for-profit baby-killing machine) is a bigger concern for him than national security or the economy.

But I will not despair. I will strive to grow in faith, hope and love. I will beg the Lord for sufficient grace that I will not disappoint Him in the dark days ahead, when I will surely be persecuted for my faith. I will take comfort in the words of St. Thomas More: “The times are never so bad  but that a good man can make shift to live in them.” (Of course, he was a great man living in terrible times, until he was martyred!)

And I will pray. I will beg the Lord to wake us up. I will pray for the lukewarm, for those who have fallen into error, for those who march for the culture of death, because I believe that every prayer is heard and answered:

“Just four years ago, I was celebrating the victory of Barack Obama. My heart has been changed. All hearts can change. We must pray and fast. Now is not the time to throw in the towel. “This too shall pass.” Be committed. Be in prayer. Be active. Use your voice. I was not voted out of Planned Parenthood. I was prayed out of Planned Parenthood.”

Abby Johnson, founder of And Then There Were None


The Year of Faith

Today, thanks to Papa Ratzi (Pope Benedict, formerly known as Joseph Ratzinger), we begin the official Year of Faith, and do we ever need it!  Since I spend most of my time “fixing” to do things, I was delighted to stumble upon a great spiritual exercise for the next twelve months. Flocknote will email a bit of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to me every day, and by the end of the year, I will have read the whole thing. Feel free to join me!