Category Archives: cancer

Little Talks with God

Little Talks with God by St Catherine of Siena edited by Henry Carrigan Jr.

Any book about St Catherine of Siena will catch my attention.  I hope someday Mel Gibson will make a film about her.  Because I believe that many women will see her as a fireball of strength.  Talk about feminism in the truest sense of the form.  Her femininity was one of her many strengths our Lord used to make her one of our greatest Saints of the Church.

Littletalks

In Carrigan’s best description of St Catherine’s life is “mystical experiences with fervent activism”.

During her later years, she had a several priests write down her thoughts that were later put into books and shared with communities.  At a young age,  St. Catherine had a burning desire to know more about God and truth. This desire would change into fortitude that became spiritual lessons others to this day still learn from, like myself.

I learned much from this book.  I pretty much have each page ear dogged.  Self contemplation to the greatest degree.  Where to start and where to go in prayer, examination of conscience, courage, and faith in action to name a few.

img_6695.jpgSt. Catherine’s passion for Christ grew even more so when God showed her the needs of the world and the offenses being made against God.

St. Catherine had a selflessness that at times frightened me. She understood the punishment God could give and at the same time his limitless mercy.  She would rather suffer for those who had no clue of their sin because she knew it would be redemptive in the suffering so she spoke in prayer always to take that cup for their sake.

 

“How very pleasing to God is the willing desire to suffer for him.”

Through St Catherine’s writing, my life has learned the beauty in suffering. How I had no clue that there is purpose in suffering.   Used to think any physical or mental suffering was a kind of punishment by God. Learning more about suffering through St. Catherine, has taught me the meaning of it by explaining how it is redemptive, unifies us with Christ, offering it to Christ, and understanding His love for us.

Her writing takes you to a realm that no other writer has taken me.  I feel like I’m in another place even though I’m most likely sitting on the couch in my home.  The power in her words gives me a sense of heaven that truly gives me a connection I’m most grateful I am aware of now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drunks and Monks

I learned about this book by mention on the Jennifer Fulweiler’s show.   It caught my attention because it had to do with addiction and recovery.

Once I started reading it, I was hooked.  It’s a raw memoir from John Carmichael. He recounts his life from childhood through finding his way out of addiction by becoming a Catholic.  It struck a chord with me because I too came from an upbringing of alcoholism.

DrunksMonksIn his book, he speaks about his rise to a successful career, finding his wife, until he becomes an addict and destroys all around him. His Mom was a hard core alcoholic.  Morning, day, night. Even though he saw the reckoning, he could not find himself out of it.  Much of the effects of what would cause him to drink, did come from his relationship with his Mom and love not received by either of his parents.

He describes his environment in sunny So Cal – Orange county. The pull of the riches and struggle with letting go. I pictured well where his life took place because I’m so familiar with this area since I have visited these neck of the woods since I was a child.

One spot in particular is San Juan Capistrano Mission where he first begins his attempt in finding God. First taking back by the beauty of the Chapel where Mass is recited in Latin. Then his courage to reaching out to a monastic priest who then becomes his confessor.  And even though he made these strides he shares his very real battle working out his faith through temptation and relapse. What I appreciated is how the San Juan Capistrano community, supported him and invited him to the faith. An example for all parishes to follow.  He felt so welcomed, he even became a part of the choir.

Even though most understand, that even when one follows the Catholic Church punch card, it doesn’t mean that all will be easy going. In Carmichael’s case, the timing of his initial prep in the faith became his strength when his Mom’s struggle with alcoholism became its worst and then her diagnosis of terminal cancer.

His style of writing was as if you were experiencing it yourself.  Truly can understand his battles and his journey through faith.

If you like reads like I do like this, pick this book up!

 

 

Heaven’s Eyes

It’s taken me a bit of time to muster up and write about this.  I had wanted to do this for my Dad’s anniversary in February but it didn’t happen due to my own issues and events taking place at home.

This blog is about my Dad’s final suffering.

My memories of my Father are mixed.  From a child until about 5th/6th grade, I have sweet memories.  I can recall many things like road trips, hanging out on the weekend, family gatherings, etc.

My Dad had a bad drug and alcohol addiction. By 5th grade it had gotten worse.  Mom and Dad separated and by 7th grade, they divorced.  I stayed in Mom’s custody and began a relationship with my Dad that was not consistent.

Visits with him consisted of buying stuff at the mall,  his  attempt to  bond.  I don’t recall him being in touch with me years after. Then when he bought me a car, senior year, I would meet him for lunch or whatever but it’s not like I had a connection with him.  It felt odd and distant. There were many times where I would go to his place where he lived and find him stone cold. Passed out.  I would often be afraid to find him dead. Thanks to God that never happened but there was a time where I would wish God would take him. Strange mentality, but I was thinking it would end his addiction.

In July 1994, by the grace of God, Dad surrendered his life to Jesus. His life as we know transformed because of it. His life from that point on was to just love and share what he found in Jesus. He learned many humility lessons early on, actually throughout his life until his death.  Reconciling with family, getting a job that paid less than half what he used to make, great remorse, but he was happy.

From this time until 2005, he led a humble life. He remarried and gave much of his time to his Free Methodist church. He even completed a program in theology.

At the end of 2005, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 Sarcoma.  He had a 14 pound tumor removed on Thanksgiving day. After surgery, he never got back to being “normal” again as much as he tried.

My Sister and I attended to him with doctor appointments, hospital stays. He was battling mentally and spiritually more than physically. He so much wanted to live because of what he found in Jesus. Freedom. Love. Peace.

This brings me to his last five days in hospice.

He had such peace.  He knew fully well that when he was brought to hospice that this was it.  He asked me, “the only thing I want is to be able to see the Tucson mountains from my room.”  The place was God given.

He went through episodes of joy, fear, calm, laughter, and sorrow. Because I was self-employed I was able to be at his side all day and stayed with him the first night.  We shared “shifts” between his wife and my sister.  Both of them worked full-time, so because I didn’t work, I had time to be with him all day.

I remember feeling fatigued. Mentally drained. Always wondering if what we were doing was right with him. Medical treatment wise. Angry with past doctors.  He was in much pain.  I didn’t think of it then but I know now God graced me.

On the last day, February 20, 2006, his pain med had been increased. He was antsy!  I remember getting up to go outside and sit but he grabbed my arm because he felt me move. I said “Dad it’s ok, I’m just   going outside.”  But then something told me to stay.  So I stood next to him and just caressing his arm, telling him it’s okay. That I loved him. His restlessness stopped. And at that point, I remember staring at him into his eyes. He relaxed himself into his bed. I felt like my heart was being pulled to his and my being felt like I was taken away. When I looked into my Dad’s eyes it felt like I was going somewhere with him.  I literally felt a pull. His pupils changed.  I’ll never forget it.

After that, he fell into a heavy sleep.  He slept the whole day and evening. When I left it was around 8 pm.  My sister and step-mother were there.  My Dad passed away around 9:30 pm.

Heaven became real to me that day. Not that I didn’t believe in heaven before. But this blessed experience helped me see my Dad’s life was headed to the eternal. I knew this.  My mind had gotten so busy with what I was responsible for that I was forgetting what was happening here with my Dad. This moment definitely had me feeling I was a soul away, my Dad, from being to touch heaven.  I saw the depth in my Dad’s eyes.  Nothing I’ve ever experienced before.

I also know that my appreciation for those who are in their final hours is different for me now. My awareness is great!

I thank my Lord for this and for giving me my Dad Joel.  I miss him greatly and still feel such a void in my life without him here.  With that void, I turn to my Lord and with greater faith, press on so that I too join my Dad in heaven. +++