Friday, September 11, 2015

Caregiver Support Group

Last night’s Caregiver’s Support Group meeting was “unusual.”  For a start, it was in an unusual place:  the back “party room” of a local restaurant (but our meetings are anything but a party).  It was only the day before the meeting --- after I had sent out meeting reminder notices --- that I was informed that the municipal building (where we’ve met for years) was closed this week.  A morning of scrambling (and begging) yielded this new meeting place for us ---- and pizza while we met! 
There was a newcomer to this month’s meeting – she had stood behind me in line at the Catholic book store earlier in the week and heard me mention the meeting, and after thinking about her situation asked the cashier for my phone number.  She called, I gave her directions, and she attended the meeting, and was so grateful.  (Meanwhile, I prayed for all those who may have shown up at the closed building.)
Despite time limits --- the restaurant closes early --- there was much sharing of life’s difficulties at the meeting, and of love, and of God’s blessings.  And there were many tears of sorrow, and of joy.  And a number of praises to God: for the existence of this group of caring people, and for each having found it.
It’s only one night a month, for a couple of hours.  As I discussed with my friend Dave last week, it is amazing how God shows us these opportunities to be an instrument of His peace.  When I looked at and heard all the love around the table last night, I was truly humbled.  I did not make this happen.  All I did was offer God two unused hours of my month, and He did the rest.
Truly, He was the real support for the group.
And today the Catholic book store asked for some of the flyers announcing the group meeting, so they could offer them to others who walk in, in need of Caregiver Support.
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I thought about titling another blog post:  “End Times?”  But I decided against the gloomy subject line, in part because I DO believe in Jesus’ words:  Only the Father knows the time and the hour.
And I am not anxious, but …
It seems that the topic continues to cross my path.  Last week I received the September bulletin from Renewal Ministries.  On the front page Ralph Martin quotes Sister Lucia of Fatima:  the final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and the family.  Don’t be afraid because anyone who operates for the sanctity of marriage and the family will always be contended and opposed in every way, because this is the decisive issue. 
And then last weekend, I picked up Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis’ book:  Fire of Mercy V.III, and began reading where I had left off, oh, about 2 years ago, and read about Mt 25: 8-9, and the parable of the 10 virgins with lamps waiting for the Bridegroom.  There were the 5 foolish virgins are running out of oil, and asking to borrow some from the others.  “It seems a perfectly reasonable request among people looking to the same goal,” says Erasmo.  But the parable is about the end times, and the Bridegroom is the coming of Jesus.  The point of the parable is that while the 10 virgins waited for him --- and the marriage with Him in heaven --- 5 weren’t well prepared.  “They possess a naïve and perhaps even subtly manipulative and self-indulgent view of the society to which they belong.  They are spiritual freeloaders.  They simply assume that they do not have to work for their own oil … that they should not strain themselves too much because there are many others in the world who will gladly do their work for them and that they, therefore, can relax in an attitude of entitlement and allow the others to fill in the gap for them. Their folly, at bottom, consists in a lack of self-knowledge:  they have not come to see that their bridal vocation entails precisely maturing in the conviction about their own uniqueness and responsibility… manifested by my awareness of the simple fact that no one else but I can look Christ in the eyes and utter the essential:  “I love You.”
“What Jesus is here condemning is the attempt to camouflage self-interest, self-delusion, and spiritual indolence under merely ritual forms of loving devotion and fidelity.”  And then “When the foolish virgins knock frantically at the door of the marriage feast shouting ‘Lord Lord, open the door to us’, they receive from the Bridegroom himself an answer that is even more trenchant and ruthless than what they heard from the wise virgins:  ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’”
These things, Gaitley’s book and talk at Steubenville, recent things I’ve read about St. Maximilian Kolbe, and various people urging me to look more deeply at Sister Faustina and Divine Mercy, coupled with the pope’s new call for a year of prayer for Divine Mercy, and other things too …. It seems a lot has been coming my way in recent months, and it all seems to revolve around the same topic.
I don’t pretend to understand why.

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