Call Me Catholic

I Picked Up a Hitchhiker

I really did it.  I picked up a hitchhiker for the first time the other day, with a van full of kids no less.  This was back in January, when we were living in North Dakota.

Backup a Bit

It was a bitterly cold Thursday afternoon, and the children and I were driving into town to attend the funeral of a friend.  It was one of the coldest days of the season with the wind whipping the snow around and dropping the temperature to about -30 degrees Fahrenheit.  We were still a few miles from town when I came up over a hill and spotted a man walking alongside the road.  His whole body was bent over, as he was trudging against the fierce wind.

Immediately my heart leapt, and I knew I had to offer him a ride; he’d die otherwise.  So, I yelled back to the kids that I was going to offer this man a ride, and that I’d explain my actions later.

I slowed down, breathed a prayer of protection to my guardian angel, and rolled down the window and shouted, “Hey!  You want a ride?”

A young face turned to me and halfheartedly waved.  He hadn’t heard me because of the wind.

I boldly tried again, “Get in!”

Then he understood and nodded.  He ran over and pointed to the back of the van, wondering if he ought to ride in the back?

I shook my head.  “No, sit up here, by me.”  I was going to keep my eye on this guy, after all.

He opened the door and quickly jumped in and shuddered.  Again, it was a deadly cold day.  As I picked up speed, he quietly said, “Thank you.  It’s a lot longer walk into town than I remembered.”

Dear Reader, let me tell you now, he reeked of alcohol, and my heart ached for him.  Why was he out walking on such a savagely cold afternoon?  I wanted to ask him this, but didn’t.  Instead, I told him I was driving to the Cathedral and that I’d drop him off anywhere he wanted along the way.  And again, all he said was, “Thank you.”

As I neared town, he mentioned that he’d get out at the Interstate exit.  During this time, I was asking for the guidance of Jesus.  Is there anything, dear Jesus, that you would have me say to this young man?

“I am Catholic,” I blurted out, as I pulled over at the exit.  “Please, you must take this holy card of Jesus.  He loves you so.  And here is His Mother, Mary.  She loves you too.”

There was a pause as he reached for the holy card of Jesus and the Miraculous Medal of Mary.  He looked at them.

I continued, “She cares about you, you know.  He does too.”

He looked at me and said, “Thank you.”  Then he opened the door and was gone into the vicious wind.

I turned onto the Interstate and glanced at the silent children in the rearview mirror and paused.  How do I explain myself?  This was certainly something I had never done before, nor would I recommend it.

I began, “Don’t you ever, ever do that–pick up strangers, I mean.”  Then I sighed and continued, “Well, unless the Holy Spirit or your Guardian Angel tells you to do so.  Then you listen and do as your told.”

Pause.  “That’s why I picked that man up.  I was told to.  But that almost never happens.”

More silence.  “We must pray for this young man, children.”

And so we did.  Perhaps you could offer a small prayer for him too, Dear Readers?

Life is Worth Living

Paul’s Suffering

Well, I am back at it, after taking a 3 week break.  During this break I had intended to vacation with my family, attend my brother’s wedding, and enjoy some carefree timelessness.

But nothing has gone as expected.

Rather, two days before we were to leave for South Dakota, my husband and I had to rush our son, Paul, to our local ER.  His incision from last May’s surgery had become infected.  And before we knew it, he and my husband were driving straight through the night to St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester.

And thus began 3 weeks of the most excruciating suffering I’ve ever known–watching a child suffer.

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Paul Endures Surgery After Surgery

During these last 3 weeks, Paul has undergone surgery after surgery, with almost everything going wrong that could go wrong.  His shunt tubing became blocked.  His heart rate kept dropping dangerously low.  He quit breathing for 10-15 seconds at a time and would struggle for breath, for hours upon hours.  Blood leaked into his brain.  One shunt malfunctioned.  Another shunt slipped out of place.  His left ventricle collapsed.  He hasn’t eaten for days upon days and is losing weight.  He is suffering seizures.  And then there’s all the vomiting.

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All of these things have been happening in addition to the most excruciating head pain.  And we sit helplessly by him and watch and pray.  I’ll never forget the terrible day and night I had to watch his heart rate slow, his breathing cease, and then the trembling of his body to grasp a breath.  It was terrible.

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And it’s still going on.  I beg of you, dear Readers, to remember him in your prayers.  But remember the other children too.  They are suffering in a different way.  They wonder, where is Paul?  Why can’t Paul just come home?  Why can’t the doctors fix him?

We don’t know the answers.  We only know that for some mysterious reason God is allowing this suffering, and we can choose to accept it, or we can drive ourselves mad with endless, unanswerable questions and blame God for ruining a perfectly healthy little boy.

But we choose to trust in Him.  He who is the beginning and the end of all things.  He who created the heavens and the earth.  He who loves us so much that He died for us.  And His name is Jesus.  And all knees on earth and in heaven will bend to Him at the end of time.  May His kingship reign forever and ever.

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Paul Prayer Intentions

In the midst of his suffering, Paul has been praying.  He has been asking Mary to hold him.  And he has been praying for Ex-Cardinal McCarrick and for my cousin, Tony.  Up until today, Tony had been in psyche ward of a hospital.  All within a few years, his brother died in a motorcycle accident, his wife died from cancer, and his father just died last week.

Tony was released this morning.  He drove to his father’s house and killed himself.

Please, Jesus, You have a most merciful heart.  We pray, that in those briefest of moments before his death, Tony in his agony turned towards You.

 

 

Book Review

The Apocalypse: Book Review

Many of you sharp readers are aware of my admiration for Michael O’Brien.  It is no secret that I consider him one of the most talented and brilliant fiction authors of the last 100 years.  I’ve read most of his work, and I can’t praise it enough.  Seriously, you need to read him.  I recently highlighted his book Strangers and Sojourners, but if you’ve never read him before, you might also consider the widely popular Father Elijah.  You won’t regret it.

The Apocalypse: Warning, Hope & Consolation

Today, however, I’m going to highlight a lesser known work, a nonfiction piece, which was recently published by Wiseblood Books.  It’s The Apocalypse: Warning, Hope & Consolation.  (Click HERE for it on Amazon.)

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This book is a collection of talks, short essays, and selected readings all pertaining to the End Times – the Great Apostasy, the confusion in the Church, the Antichrist, Jesus’ warnings, etc.  And for O’Brien, this thing is short.  It’s only 161 pages long.

So, why read it?  I’ll offer you two reasons:

  1. The End of the World will happen.  Jesus says so in the Bible.  No, it’s not for us to know when, but it’ll happen.  O’Brien’s book explores that.  Many in the Church would have you ignore the Sign of the Times.  Of course (do I need to say this?) O’Brien in not a sensationalist, but rather a realist.   Just what is going on, on a Supernatural level?  He has a few provoking thoughts.
  2. Have you noticed the mass exodus of Catholics leaving the Church?  (This problem isn’t just a Catholic one, by the way, it goes for all Christian denominations.)  O’Brien’s best chapter is The Great Apostasy.  Here he tackles the difference between apostasies in the past and the Great Apostasy that is now taking place.  For example, O’Brien writes,
    “A civilization that has known Christianity (and is now largely ignorant about how dark paganism can be) is choosing to go back down into the swamp…”

    This chapter is so awesome.  O’Brien quotes G. K. Chesterton and Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman and Christopher Dawson and Joseph Pieper and St. Paul and Jesus.  You need to read it.

Lastly, I Came Across This the Other Day

Here’s the latest Gallup Poll on Mass attendance for Catholics.  Yikes.

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Some 70% of Catholics attended Mass weekly in 1955.  Today?  It’s closer to 39%.  What the hell happened?

As a reflection, just think of what has happened in the Church since 1955…  We’ve had the complete stripping away of our once beautiful churches.  Latin has been thrown out.  High altars have been ripped out.  Gregorian chant is almost nowhere to be found. Religious Sisters shunned their habits.  Ember Days are gone.  And Catholics know more about their favorite sporting teams than their own faith.

You can’t tell me something isn’t going on.  Michael O’Brien thinks so, and I’m inclined to agree with him.  Wake-up, people!  And go read his book.