May 12, 2011

Pale Rider

..Or, it's Hell raising parents these days!

Gentle Reader: Some day you will ache like I ache There is nothing like illness and hospitalization to reveal the family and friend fault lines. I had a big argument with my Dad during his recent, and ongoing, spell of illness and hospitalization about calling a priest to bring him Communion and Anoint him. My Dad, and I know he's not alone in this, believes if you see a priest standing over you then you are near death. The people that believe this, also believe that if you remove the priest from your view, you will make a miraculous recovery! I know.

There is a fine line between doing what you think is best for someone and letting them do what they want. I could sit here and fight with my Dad all day about his continued smoking, or I could just hide the pack, or I can say nothing and give him a pained puppy look and let his conscience wear on him.

I think I have pretty close to the same options encouraging receipt of the Sacraments with him.

My Dad was well catechized in his youth. He's been a Catholic all his life. He married a Catholic. He tried to raise his children in the Faith. But, he has been seriously afflicted by the "whatever" and "anything is valid if done with heart" culture of our times.

We had another big argument that I'm counting as a mild victory for myself (I'd say "our side" but I'm selfish when I count coup) where he said it was enough that a pastor friend of his from a non-denominational church a few dozen miles away came to the hospital and prayed over him. I said it was nice that his friend did that but that is not the same as a priest administering the Sacraments. I kid you not when he said "What's the difference?" I'd like to say I responded calmly. I responded with a tirade, mercifully free of profanity, along the lines "If you are going to act like a Protestant, why bother even pretending to be Catholic?" I'm not sure that the "strength" of my argument had impact or if it was my anger, in any case he fell silent.

I have no definitive answers on how to handle this "situation". I'm sure many of you have been in a similar situation with aging or ill family members. How do you explain with charity and calm, in a situation that is often challenged to find either, that being close to the Sacraments all the time is important, but even more so when there is serious need?


Blogger ArchAngel's Advocate said...

Sounds like he received his Cathlic education (or what passed for it then) when the "Anointing of the Sick" was called "Extreme Unction" & was administered only when the sick person was at death's door. (The pendulum has swung in the opposite direction as I was told by a pastor he won't anoint someone dying as the proper Sacrament for the Dying is Viaticum. If I'm dying I want BOTH! I better put it into my final instructions, I guess).
This might be an opportunity for you to talk with the pastor of the parish (either the one responsible for the hospital where your father is, or if he's home his parish) about your being set up as an Extra-Ordinary Minister of Holy Communion. There is a provision in the documents for this position for family members to be given temporary authorization to do this, especially if the parish can (or will) only make limited visits to the patient. The parishes for whom I've been an EMHC even have "spare" pyxes especially for this purpose.

May 12, 2011 10:44 AM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

I harassed my dad about his drinking and smoking and health and final penitence almost up to the point of death - he died a few days after the last time I saw him. The most difficult thing for us to accept is that we can not control our loved ones or change their behavior and attitude. That is why we pray and and fast and try to practice patience and charity. After my dad died I regretted I had been so judgemental and self-assured that I knew what was best for him. I forgot to just be there for him, with him.

As for calling a priest - just do it - I'm sure he will be polite to the guy. Then apologize later.

The Divine Mercy chaplet works wonders.

May 12, 2011 10:46 AM  
Blogger X said...

I'm with Terry - just do call the priest.

My MIL was sick a couple years ago. The docs just could not come up with a combo of meds that would work for her. Eveyrone was really thinking this was it. I phoned her parish and requested that Fr. X go and see her. She is of the age that, like your dad, when Father comes then the Pearly Gates are just around the corner. HOWEVER, the visit went very well and my cafeteria Catholic SIL was there when the priest arrived and he did what she and my MIL described as almost a little Mass (but with anointing, not Holy Communion). Next thing you know the doctors got it together on the meds and Mom has been fine (except for her bulging disc...but that's another story).

Just call the priest.

May 12, 2011 11:08 AM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

At my Dad's funeral one of my aunts by marriage, an evangelical and hater of Catholics, informed me that my Dad had "accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior", due to her intercession. So like now everything was hunky-dory - or something. I just nodded, turned away, and rolled my eyes to heaven while murmuring to myself, "whatever."

My motto about all these goings on that you are experiencing is to "Let God sort it out. That's His job."

Sit back and let God do his job. He's really, really good at it. Your job is to be a daughter.

May 12, 2011 12:35 PM  
Blogger Fr. John Mary, ISJ said...

My prayers for you and your's, dear Miss Cathy.
That's a tough one.
I just know (from my own experience) that the Anointing of the Sick brings so many, many graces and gave me the peace to be ready for anything when I had spinal surgery (not knowing if I'd end up paralyzed or dead).
Jesus and Mary will help, I am sure of this.
Just keep prayin' dear.
It's tough; I do know.

May 13, 2011 9:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You don't. You cannot force anyone to believe, change, be religious, have respect for the sacraments, etc. I say this as an orthodox Catholic.

Asking him if he wants a priest for discussion or sacraments at this time? Sure. But if he says no, you drop it. It is HIS soul that HE is responsible for. Not you.

The fact that you yelled at him and became argumentative shows that YOU have the issue, not him. It illustrates your concern for his disdain for the church that you've obviously felt and been upset about for quite some time. Again YOUR concern, not his.

There is nothing more unwelcome and annoying than a situation where serious illness or a person near death is being badgered about religion. Yes, I know and you know that it's more than religion. But you could be be risking peace for your father by getting into it with him.

Many will disagree with my thoughts here. But I have seen this situation for myself before and overall it's just not good. Pray for him, fast for him, offer masses for him, etc. But in the end, it is HIS salvation that he has to work out for himself.

May 13, 2011 10:03 PM  
Blogger 3puddytats said...

Yeah--I had one of those work weeks too...running here and there juggling a whole bunch of stuff, trying to get some convoluted testing scheduled and arranged, and wishing I had either a helicoptor or channel Padre Pio's ability to bilocate...

Then to top it off was threatened with poor performance scores on an upcoming inspection if we are the least little bit guardian angel did great for clamping my mouth shut as I just about lost it..and no one stood up for me..I have busted my ass on this project. This was the closest I came to crying at work in a LONG time.. and those who know me know I'm a pretty tough cookie..then got home and my kitties licked my face and I cried for real...

Bosses can be such jerks...


P.S. I don't let people ruin my birthday..I take the day off from work, go to the spa, and let some handsome hunk rub nice smelling oil all over me...then get my toenails painted :) Happy birthday :)

May 13, 2011 11:11 PM  
Blogger Fr. John Mary, ISJ said...

I am beginning to watch my parents "fail"...I see my dear Mum repeating herself and looking so frail...Da is doing fine, I think...

It's very difficult.

They can't be THAT OLD, I keep telling myself...

It's rough. I understand.

May 15, 2011 11:02 PM  

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