Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Paul and His "Next Speech"

My son Paul will always be remembered in my mind as my boy, but he was an extraordinary man. Paul's life was filled with sensitivity, caring about others, fun - yes, lots of fun and laughter - and faith...a faith that grew.

Paul had many crosses, especially when we had to move out of state while he was in college, leaving our young adult children behind, and then he lost his vision to Leber's Hereditary Optic Neuropathy. Although this gene doesn't often cause total blindness, Paul became totally blind within a few short months (except for light perception). He laughed and made jokes about blindness, accepting his cross. His blindness was perhaps a greater cross because he was an artist, majoring in electronic media and broadcasting. He continued to be able to envision people and settings, and he could see a whole movie in his mind. He minored in creative writing. Paul finished college and, as he liked to point out, got a better grade point average after he lost his vision than before.

On the day before Thanksgiving in 2010, Paul was hit by a minivan while walking to St. Agnes in Ft. Wright, KY one morning to Mass. He suffered bleeding on the brain, a fractured shoulder blade, bruises and lacerations. Yet he was released from the hospital the next day and recovered, continuing to walk to church for Mass and Adoration, but nagging the city to put in an audible signal at that street crossing...which they did.

Paul continued to speak at retreats, help with adult convert instruction, visit classrooms to share about blindness, go to nursing homes to ask people to offer their sufferings for the Rose Garden Home Mission, which offers pregnancy counseling and so much more, and many other activities. Most recently, he gave talks at churches on devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus, and about a week before his death he met with the bishop to get his blessing on his work, which he gave. Paul went wherever he was called. He received his strength and inspiration from Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and from Mary, the Mother of Jesus. He often told me, "God is love".

On January 19, 2012, Paul passed in his sleep. We do not know the exact cause. After the family arrived in town, my oldest son Joe looked through Paul's computer and found what he believed Paul was going to use as his next talk on the Holy Name of Jesus. As you read it, you may see that it not only gives glory to God, but it also seems as if he unknowingly, perhaps through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote his own eulogy and his own encouragement to those of us who are left to grieve his death. He loved to "work the crowd" when he gave a speech and I'd like to think Jesus may allow him to see each of your responses as you read. Here it is:

An Untitled Talk on the Holy Name of Jesus, by Paul Myers

You may be inclined to think that my tragic litany would make a good country music song. And I'll admit, I've considered this myself. But if I were to pen a song from these events, it would not be a somber country song but a positive and uplifting Christian song.

I am not really here today to talk about myself, but about the one who is the cause of my hope, whose grace enables me to proclaim, "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."

Like Job, and like myself, Jesus suffered. But just as the story of Job ends with him being given back everything he lost and more, and just as in my own life I have received many blessings after every cross, so too the story of Christ Jesus has a joyful ending. On the third day after dying a horrible death on the cross, he arises in glory. Forty days after that, he ascends to heaven, where he reigns in a kingdom of love over all of us who, thanks to his sacrifice, can also enjoy this eternal paradise.

He knows how I have suffered. He knows how you suffer. On the cross, he gave comfort to the good thief who was dying on his own cross by saying, "This day you will be with me in paradise."

Every time we suffer, He turns to us with compassion, and with that same sympathy, the sympathy of a man who knows another's pain firsthand, He whispers a similar promise, "One day soon you will be with me in paradise."

It is that promise that allows me, in the midst of even the worst suffering, to smile and say, "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."

His name, which literally means, "God saves," the name Jesus, has a special place in my heart.

It is in the words of the apostle Paul, "That name which is above every name, at which every knee shall bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father."

Every time I hear or say the name of Jesus, I show my reverence and joy in his name, not with a bend of the knee as Paul recommends which might be a little awkward in the middle of the supermarket, but with a simple bow of the head, a practice which goes back centuries in the history of Christianity.

And I make it a point never to take His name in vain.

If you are in that habit, I do not condemn. I am a sinner myself. But I ask you to consider the hope, the peace, the joy that is to be found in uniting yourself to the dying and rising Christ Jesus. I hope that you will find comfort in His Name. I hope that you will consider bowing your head at His name as I do. But most of all, I hope that you will know the peace I do, to be able to say, even amidst the greatest trials, "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Catholic Classics as Free E-Books

If you have a Kindle (oooh, how I love my Kindle!), or if you don't (if you are reading this, you have access to a computer, right?)...there are good old Catholic books you can get for FREE. You can get them in various formats or just read them on your computer. Well, maybe not on the public library computer, as you have to download them. But do you have a family member or friend who would let you use their computer to download it and then put it on your thumb-drive? It seems to me you could read it from your thumb drive whenever you can get on a computer. I haven't tried that but I'm just trying to think creatively for those of you who may not have an e-Reader or a computer of your own at the moment.

This is not an all-inclusive list. These are just things that I have read and enjoyed...and now am happy to have in my Kindle library. You can do more searches of your own. Most of these titles are available from the Gutenberg Project, but you can get some free or inexpensive Catholic Kindle books from Amazon, and you can sometimes find Catholic e-books from other sources, as well. If you are willing to pay, you can get more current books, too.

Douay Rheims Catholic Bible comes as a free download from Gutenberg. Why the Douay Rheims? Some prefer it, but it's the only one I'm including because it's the only Catholic Bible I know of, that's available in e-format. I'm hoping the Catholic RSV will also appear at some point. I got my Douay Rheims Bible in Kindle format through Amazon for $3.99, because it is in a more navigable form, meaning I can find a particular book and chapter when I want to.

And that, my friends, is the drawback to getting e-books from Gutenberg, that you cannot always navigate easily from chapter to chapter; you have to read through from beginning to end or do a lot of scrolling around. That's why I jump at opportunities to get books from Amazon and even spend a few dollars, although - even from there - not all books are navigable. It pays to read the reviews.

The Story of a Soul, the Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux
is also available as a free download from Gutenberg Press. What a beautiful, spiritual book this is, and it's one you can enjoy reading from beginning to end, which means not worrying about navigation. And as most Kindle users know, if you have a Kindle it will save your place in one book, even if you go read another Kindle book, say you want to read another genre, and then come back to it later.

Would you like to hear how a cardinal at the turn of the century - no, the other century, late 1800's to early 1900's - explained the Catholic Faith, especially for non-Catholics and converts? James Cardinal Gibbon's The Faith of Our Fathers is an interesting and inspiring explanation of our beautiful Faith. Some things are not up to date with current rules and regulations, but the basic truths, of course, are universal for all times and places.

You can get Lourdes, and other books by Msgr. Robert Hugh Benson from Gutenberg, also.

Would you like to know what a famous Protestant author thought about St. Damien? You can download Father Damien, an Open Letter, by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Wait! Once you have downloaded these books onto your computer, how do you get them onto your Kindle? If you're not already familiar with this procedure, you can go to the Amazon page: Transferring, Downloading and Sending Files to Kindle 2nd Generation. Scroll down to "Connecting your Kindle device to your computer" and "Transferring Kindle content". Or did a manual come with your computer? Hopefully you will be able to figure out it, because I am not a computer geek. But if you have any problem, as my geeky son always tells me when I am not sure what to do, "Google it". (Just be sure you visit safe sites.) I have found it really quite easy to put downloaded books onto my Kindle once I got the hang of it, so I wish you the best of luck, too.

Enjoy your reading, and God bless you.


Sunday, January 08, 2012

Organization - Asking What's Working Well?

If you've been following my posts for awhile, then you may know that I've been battling this same problem for years now: the papers on the dining room table.

You see, we have an 8 person table, and usually 4-5 people eating, so I'm able to use one end for the mail. And it piles up, and around, and occasionally down...as paper clutter will do.

So yesterday a question popped into my head. "What is working well?"

So I made a list:

The supplies drawer of the file cabinet is great. Need a spiral book? Pretty computer paper for a letter? A composition book? There they are, all bought on sale.

I love my little three drawer plastic organizer unit, one drawer labeled "Write", the next "Calculate and Label", and the next, "Cut and Fasten". By using verbs, I was able to include a whole lot of stuff with only one or two-word labels. Eliminates questions such as, "Mom, where's the tape?"

The wall calendar has all the family appointments posted, and I use my purse calendar in conjunction with it.

My daily to-do lists are written in a simple 8 1/2 X 11 spiral notebook.

We can find local numbers in the Rolodex, and older contact information in the "Addresses Notebook"...a simple binder with notebook paper and typed sheets.

The shredder and the hole punch and scissors are all readily accessible, close to my place at the table.

My online bill paying is under control and on time.

With streamlined ease, I can plan meals, make a grocery list, and find recipes.

I use composition books to plan, to journal, or to keep track of information I glean while on a trip.

I'm able able to grab my Neo (portable word processor), or one of my zipper binders, as I'm going out the door.

So, with all that working so well, what's the problem???

The mail! Bulletins from church. Fliers from the apartment management. Any papers that come into the house. Oh, don't worry. If you have ever sent me a card or letter, I joyously read it before it ever hit the table. But the rest? Not so good. I stack it to sort later. And later rarely comes. Sometimes it all ends up in a box because we're having company and we need another place or two at the table.

So what can I do?

Hmm, well, I have notebooks for medical bills and EOB's (explanation of benefits)...I just need to put the papers in there. I could put bulletins and flyers in my Household Notebook. I could make a thin notebook for bills that have to be paid by mail. Not all that much really needs to be changed...only two major things. I simply need a time and a place.

Perhaps I just need to pick a day of the week to process mail...and a place to stack or sort it in the meantime. I kept thinking I needed a desk with enough space to sit at it. No, I only need a desk or system for the mail, not for myself. I already love my place at the table, where I can look out the window...and I can bring one category of mail to my place at a time and process it.

This project suddenly appears do-able...all because I started with the question: What is working well?

How about you? Have you ever tackled a difficult project by asking what's already working well?

Saturday, January 07, 2012

What I Learned in 2011

Doesn't the word "twenty-twelve" have a nice sound to it? Not only that, 2011 had some sadnesses in it that I wish had never happened. However, I also learned some things in 2011 and I would like to share them with you as slogans.

Before I begin, let me tell those who might balk at my first slogan - about guilt - that yes, I believe in sin. But "feeling" guilty is only good for true sin and then only as a temporary thing to get us to be sorry and make amends. Feeling guilty for things from our past life, or for things other people did or are doing, things we can't help...you get the picture...all of those are a futile waste of energy and only contribute to the landfill of the human condition.

For those who know me well, you will realize that some of these slogans are only a work in progress, not a "done deal". But that I "discovered" them is a start...not that I discovered all of them on my own. One or more of them I learned from a friend and so I post this today in honor of all that was good and true and noble in that friendship.

What I Learned in the Year 2011:

1. Give up the guilt.

2. It's good to be happy.

3. I am not responsible for the happiness of anyone else.

4. My happiness is not dependent on that of others.

5. It is good to serve others; it is not necessarily good to please others.

6. Be decisive.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Verse for a Broken Friendship

I wrote this free verse about a broken friendship, just the day before my sister died. I didn't post it, because I wanted to see if the friendship could be restored. To the credit of my friend, she did send me condolences on my loss, in spite of our rift. But as of tonight, it looks like she considers the friendship irreparable...or did she ever even consider it a friendship?

I share this in case anyone else is suffering, or has suffered, something similar, and in case it helps you to know that you're not the only one. Yes, broken friendship is a grief, too.

The pain grips my heart.
Sometimes I feel it beating like a drum.
Friendship rent in two.
Oh, what did we do?

Where does it go?
Where does friendship go when it disappears?

Does it go into the sea?
Does it go up like a balloon?
Does it settle like dust upon the moon?
Or on a stair? Does it go anywhere?

Where does it go?
Where does friendship go when it disappears?

Is it still in the heart, breaking it apart?
Does it flutter against the bars like a caged bird?
Where, oh, where does it go?
Where does friendship go - when it disappears?


Note Added in February 2012: I want to share with you an article I just discovered, written by Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen, entitled, How to Let Go of Someone You Love- Letting Go of the Past.