My 24/7 Mama and Zombie Days

mama.jpgMy mother is doing a new thing with her dementia.

A couple of years ago, she stopped eating. It took all sorts of finagling to get her started again. Now, she eats and demands ice cream (which she always tells me she hasn’t had “in years”) in between meals. Yesterday, she asked me how I was doing. “I haven’t seen you in a long time,” she said.

A few months before she quit eating, she stopped drinking water. We had to put her in the hospital a couple of times because she got so dehydrated. Then, we managed to get her going again on drinking water, and now it’s like it never happened.

The new deal is that she won’t sleep. She was up — and me along with with her — all night Sunday night. Just refused to go to bed. All day yesterday she was hyper confused and weepy. But she wouldn’t take a nap and when bedtime came, she flat-out refused to lie down and go to sleep.

I managed to get her down by being very firm with her. I scolded her like she was a two-year-old (which makes me feel like a rat) and told her to lie down and go to sleep. She slept, but I didn’t. I was up until almost four in the morning, and then I didn’t sleep when I finally went to bed.

Long story not so short: I’m taking a zombie day. I had all sorts of things planned that I needed to do, but I don’t think I’m going to do them. My brain is mush and I feel all sorts of jangled and disconnected. I don’t care about anything right now.

This is what caregiving for the elderly can be like when it gets choppy. My mother is unfailingly sweet. The whole time she was up during the night, she was chirpy and jazzed. She kept greeting me with delight and wanting to go for a drive, get ice cream or just chatter.

The bad part was the next day, when the exhaustion left her confused and unable to function. She was in one of those down moods when she knows that her mind is haywire and she feels demoralized because of it.

But as night came on, she started shifting upwards, ready to roll on into dawn again.

I’ve learned that we can get her past these things. Overcoming the refusals to eat and drink taught me that. It takes a concerted effort and lots of imagination, but it’s possible to flip the switch back into place and get her going again. Right now, I’ve got to re-teach her night and day. Odd as it seems, night and day have been an increasing challenge for quite some time.

I’m not sure why, but she forgets that night is night and then gets upset when other people don’t respond to her in what she thinks is the proper manner. She can go for hours, waking you over and over every minute or so with the same request. It’s usually that she wants to get ready to go to adult day care.

I just dealt with it as best I could. But an all night elderly romper room is too much. We’ve got to flip the switch back. I may ask the doc for sleeping pills, if nothing else works. I hate to do that, but, hey, she can’t go 24/7 for very long. For that matter, neither can I.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll bear with me. I’ve got cotton brain.

 

Immaculate Conception: A Person’s a Person, No Matter How Small

 

Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

It is one of my favorite days in the Church year because it commemorates the first turn of the prophetic wheel that led to our salvation. God blessed Mary with the Immaculate Conception, meaning that He removed from her soul the stain of Original Sin at that first moment when she existed.

There is meaning, wrapped inside meaning, in this event. For the moment, I want to focus on one meaning that is especially pertinent to Catholics who are trying to follow Our Lord in this Advent over 2,000 years after Our Lady was conceived.

The many meanings of the Immaculate Conception almost have no limit, applying as they do to the nature of the woman who was to become the Mother of God and Our Mother, as well. But one meaning that can get lost in the tinsel and Christmas carols that decorate this season of Advent is the simplest and most obvious.

Mary was Mary from the moment of her conception. God is not remove the stain of original sin from a little girl. The Angel Gabriel did not announce it to a young woman at the Annunciation. Christ did not endow his mother with it from the cross.

The meaning and the reality of the Immaculate Conception were woven into Mary’s biological and spiritual being from the precise moment that she began to exist as herself; a separate, entire, unique, individual, human person.

God did not remove the stain of original sin from a pile of chromosomes wrapped around one another. He did not deign to honor an anonymous cell that would shortly begin dividing and taking on the outward shape of what we have learned to identify as a human being.

The Immaculate Conception was God’s gift to Mary, the Mother of the Christ, the contributor of all that is human in our Lord and Savior from her first moment of life. Mary was conceived without sin in a silent miracle that would eventually bear the fruit that would become the I Am made human. Mary was, as parents always are, the co-creator, along with God, of the child that she birthed.

Her assent at the Annunciation was the same assent every woman gives today when she chooses to give her child life. Mary, like every other woman, was one of the life bearers of humanity. God recognized this great gift of maternity, not in the young woman whose fiat changed all of history, but in the single cell, the conceptus, that was Mary at her beginning.

If ever a believing Christian needs proof that a person’s a person, no matter how small, this is it.

The grisly deaths of human embryos, slaughtered for their body parts and used in embryonic stem cell research, can never be justified by any cure of benefit obtained from their executions at the hands of a society gone totally mad. Embryonic stem cell research is a form of cannibalism. It is the ultimate version of the biggest and meanest, making all the rules to their benefit.

Abortion was its door-opener, just as the Immaculate Conception was the door opener to our salvation. One door leads to the destruction and murder of innocents for the benefit of scientific industry and commercialized medicine. The other door, the one that the Immaculate Conception opened, leads to love, forgiveness and eternal life.

If you are a Christian, and most especially if you are a Catholic and have the benefit of the full understanding of Mary’s conception and her maternity, of who she is and what she means, you can not support embryonic stem cell research. You can not follow Jesus and go through that door both. You have to choose. The door of embryonic stem cell research is an evil wrong turn that leads away from the cross, away from salvation, away from eternal life and straight into eternal death.

The human person is made in the image and likeness of God, and you may not kill an innocent human person.

Because, as Doctor Seuss wrote, a person’s a person, no matter how small.

Ravi Zacharias: Does Hell Prove that God is Cruel?

 

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Thou Art Peter

Kd-Keys

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The Story of Amazing Grace

 

Amazing Grace touches hearts as no other hymn. Here is the remarkable story of its author.

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Ravi Zacharias: Why Does Evil Exist?

 

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What About People Who Want You to Kill Them?

Euthanasia is the practice of killing another person. It is murder.

One question that orbits around this debate is based on the “difference” between euthanasia and, say, a drive-by shooting. Many — certainly not all, but many — of the victims of euthanasia ask to be killed. So, people whose brains have marinated in relativism and other addlepated lines of reasoning ask, Doesn’t that make euthanasia “different.”

The quick and obvious answer is no. It does not. It someone asks you to kill them, and you then kill them, you are a murderer. Let me repeat these obvious facts. Euthanasia is murder. No amount of legal sophistry can change that. It is the practice of killing another, innocent person. That is murder.

If a person asks you to kill them, and you do it, then you are a murderer. If you take money for killing them, that makes you a murderer for money, a legal hit man or woman. If you run a killing business in which you do this over and over, that makes you a serial killer.

If you are an elected official and you vote to legalize euthanasia, you are a murderer. If you are a doctor, health care worker, office clerk in a hospital or doctor’s office, a friend or family member and you refer for euthanasia, you also are a murderer.

If you knowingly and deliberately invest money in euthanasia by donating to euthanasia advocacy groups or by investments in euthanasia clinics, you are an accessory to murder. If you write blogs or books or make speeches in favor of euthanasia, you are an accessory to murder.

There are no qualifiers to this.

I know precisely what I am talking about. I did quite a number of these things in support of legal abortion. Every single one of them made me a murderer. I have had to live with that for a long time now. If it wasn’t for the mercy of Jesus Christ, I would be lost eternally in that black pit of what I did.

I am calling on every person who has advocated for euthanasia to repent of this today, right now, this minute. Don’t be a fool. Save your soul.

Vatican: World Faith Leaders Pledge to Work to Stamp Out Human Trafficking

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Photo source: Reuters, via Vatican Radio

We call it “modern slavery.” 

“It” is the business of buying and selling people. 

Pope Francis hosted a group of religious leaders from many faiths who signed a pledge against modern slavery. Signatories included representatives from the Shai and Sunni Muslims, Buddhism, Orthodox, Jewish and Anglican faith traditions. 

I once did something similar to this. I hosted a luncheon for Oklahoma’s faith leaders, including many Protestant denominations, Orthodox, Catholic, Buddhist, and Muslim. 

I think that something like this could really change things, but it takes going forward. One event, one signing or one document, won’t do it. 

I am proud of Pope Francis for taking this first great step and for uniting the leaders of these faiths in this call for an end to human trafficking It is the essential first step to this change. 

From Vatican Radio;

(Vatican Radio) An unprecedented gathering of religious leaders from all corners of the globe took place in the Vatican on Tuesday for the signing of a joint declaration against modern slavery. Pope Francis joined Anglican, Orthodox, Jewish, Shia and Sunni Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist representatives in the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, together with two young trafficking victims from Mexico and Ghana. Philippa Hitchen reports…..

No-one knows the exact number of men and women, boys and girls who are trafficked into prostitution, forced labour or the trade in human body parts. Some estimates put the figure as high as 35 million, but as one participant pointed out, it’s not the numbers that matter as much as the fact that every single one of those people could be your brother or sister, my son or daughter.

When the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby first met Pope Francis in 2013, they identified the scourge of human trafficking as one of the most urgent priorities for both of their Churches today. Less than a year later, the ecumenical Global Freedom Network was set up to try and harness the commitment of believers around the world for practical action to eradicate this modern slavery by the year 2020.

This gathering of religious leaders in the Vatican today represents around 90 percent of the world’s population and the declaration they signed commits their communities to working together for the freedom of all people and an end to this lucrative trade in human life. In his words to the group, Pope Francis called it an absurd evil and a crime against humanity….

The Murder of Innocents is Wrong and Every Human Being Knows It.

 

Human rights.

Does that phrase refer to unalienable human rights that are ours by virtue of the fact that we are human beings? Or, does it refer to laws and rules that can be shifted and changed by the whim of legislative bodies or the flick of a dictator’s will?

What are human rights, and where, if they exist as a separate entity, do they come from?

Thomas Jefferson, Deist that he was, got it exactly right when he said that human beings are “endowed by their Creator” with “certain unalienable rights.” By using those phrases, he chose to found this nation on the concept and reality of the fact that there are certain things that we, as human beings, know without being taught that we may not do. These things are written on our hearts, placed in our souls, from the moment that we begin to be.

We are never amoral. That is not possible for human beings because we are made in the image and likeness of God and His image shines through us in this undeniable and universal understanding of human rights that we are born knowing. From dateline to dateline, pole to pole, every culture, every people, every person, knows what murder is and that they may not do it.

Atheists often reference this when faced with the question of how they can possibly devise a morality of their own making, without reference to God. Everyone knows that murder is wrong, no matter what they believe about God they say. This is undeniably true, but it is not because there is no God. What they are doing without realizing it is affirming the teaching and the concept of Natural Law.

But, even though we know these things from our beginning, we are not automatons. We are not animals who operate by unchanging instinct. We are, from the moment we begin to be, free to chose. We can reject God or choose God. We can deny Him or follow Him. It is our choice.

We can — and we do — murder one another, oftentimes in great numbers and with a sadistic savagery that no animal can either feel or comprehend. We know that murder is wrong, but we can write laws to give ourselves permission to murder. We can create arguments that, however specious, allow us to fool ourselves into believing that murder is not only allowed, it is a positive good, and that we are taking the higher moral road by advocating for it.

I know.

I did this myself.

I was as convinced as a person could be convinced that legal abortion was a positive good that was necessary to save women’s lives and to further the just cause of women’s rights. I responded to the cruelties, discrimination and violence that I saw visited on women, oftentimes as a result of the fact that we are the ones who bear children, with a committed advocacy for legal abortion.

Later, when I realized the horror of what I had done, I was grieved beyond my capacity to bear. God showed me what I had done, and then He helped me bear and heal from the effects of knowing it.

Because of this experience, I am both the euthanasia advocate’s harshest critic and his or her most sorrowful and loving prayer warrior. I know what awaits them if they ever realize the full extent of what they have, by their advocacy, allowed, encouraged and done.

Innocent blood is on their hands and only  the shed blood of Jesus Christ can wash it away. But repentance for crimes against humanity of this type is not cheap. It comes with the price of knowing that you — you — are a monster. You have murdered innocents.

As much as I sorrow for them for what they are doing to themselves and others, I fear for them even more. They have locked themselves into their towers of unbelief and built moats of pride and hubris all around. Repentance for the murder of innocents is not cheap. But to live and die without repentance is to buy yourself a one-way ticket to eternal hell.

These advocates for euthanasia and their hapless followers are the most pitiable of all people.

At the same time, they, like the women who advocated for abortion, have raised issues and questions which must be answered. Evils like abortion and euthanasia have been sold to us as solutions for our own sins. The call for abortion didn’t just spring from the head of Zeus. The arguments which gave legal abortion sufficient moral gravitas to hook into the public imagination were based on real terrors such as rape and the fear of being forced to give a baby up for adoption.

These arguments found their traction in the sexual double standard and the vast cruelty and hypocrisy — oftentimes supported by the Church — that allowed it. Abortion was taken as an answer to violence against women, discrimination and prejudice against women, and the suffering of women because of these things. We turned to the murder of innocents rather than face our sins against women and repent of them.

In the same way, the arguments for euthanasia began as arguments for compassion for the suffering of dying people. Their traction in the public imagination was gained by the indifferent and cold way that people in our society died, hermetically sealed in hospitals and given only enough pain meds to keep then on the edge of screaming until death finally released them.

Once again, the answer for our sins was murder.

In the process of justifying these murderous answers to suffering and cruelty that we didn’t want to address directly, our intellectual class developed a whole set of arguments based on the concept that we are, all evidence to the contrary, just animals with big brains. We are nothing, they tell us, but chemical processes and meat.

The concept of human rights as unalienable and universal was dashed to the ground and replaced by the nebulous idea of rights founded, not on a universal human right to life, but on the idea of a relative right to life that only applies to human persons who are able to justify their right to life by exhibiting a sufficient level of social utility. This definition of what is a human being who has right to be alive has narrowed down to the point that now it stands basically at the notion that only those humans who can advocate for their own lives in a court of law are deemed truly human enough to have a right to life,

I’m going to delve into this brave new world of killing in greater depth in future posts. But for now it is sufficient to say that the universal understanding of murder as something that we may not do has been massaged into nothingness by those who want to kill at will.

A small number of deadly thinkers have used the media and our educational institutions to infect the public and the body politic with such confusion about what it means to be human that they are no longer capable of responding rationally to the social problems before them. If murdering innocent people is the answer, we really have to ask, How valid is the question?

We are being given false dichotomies and told to chose. The truth is, we have, and we have always had other options.

Women’s human rights are not supported by being forced to soldier on in a misogynist world that gives them the “choice” of murdering their own child in order to be taken as fully human. By the same token, there are myriad ways to address human suffering. Killing the sufferer is not, no matter what we have been told, one of them.

So, is it a mistake in today’s jumbled up climate of a propagandized and totally amoral public debate to talk about “human rights” at all? Has the phrase become so bastardized that it no longer means what it means?

This question strikes to the heart of the anomie of our times. If language is destroyed, then communication is destroyed and more to the point, thinking becomes impossible. What I am saying is that the people who advocate these things have drunk a lethal intellectual kool-aid that has so seriously compromised their thinking capacities that they no longer are capable of intelligent discussion.

That’s why they veer off into personal attacks and vendettas rather than take positions and discuss them intelligently. It’s why they go in circles, endlessly repeating slogans. They are arguing a moot point with bastardized language and concepts that are not concepts but the product of propaganda. Slogans and epithets presented as absolutes are all they’ve got.

Human rights, on the other hand, has the huge weight of generations of intellectual, theological and even some scientific debate and discussion behind it. The concept of unalienable rights and natural law are even accepted by those who deny their existence when they are pushed to explain how they can be moral all of themselves.

Every human knows that the murder of innocents is wrong. That is the reason for the ridiculous arguments, the vast amount of energy wasted on propagandizing the populace and the body politic. If we didn’t know that murder was wrong, it would not be necessary to create fictions and then sell them relentlessly that murdering someone is, in fact, saving them. We must turn the idea on its head or no one will accept it.

Of course, this lie begins to break down as the reality seeps through. Killing is killing. The press and popular imagination can deny this so long as they keep their distance. But the reality of lost lives hits hard for those who vacuum the uterus or administer the drugs. They are actively doing the deed. They are, by their own hands, committing murder on a mass scale.

Just as the Nazis found that machine-gunning thousands of innocent people day after day broke the SS troops who pulled the triggers, the nurses in the abortion clinics have often broken. It will be the same with euthanasia.

Some people — the Mengeles, Eichmanns, Pol Pots, Stalins, the leaders of ISIS — do not break. They are like the Ted Bundys and John Wayne Gacys. They like killing. Abortion and euthanasia was made by and for folks like these.

But for those who are not killers, who actually have bought the whole line, the moment will come when they see and know what they have done. They will break, and in that breaking will be their salvation.

This is why I persist and will continue to persist in using the scuffed and battered phrase human rights. Because it is exactly the right phrase to describe what I am talking about. Because the truth of that is written in every human heart. Because I know — know — that if I persist, someone out there who I may never know in this life will hear me and understand.

I am writing this for that someone, that one person, who will read it, or maybe the next post or the post after that, and realize that human beings have certain unalienable rights and that among them are Life.

Mary Knew.


Mary Did You Know is a pretty song.

I rather like it myself.

But it is based on the false premise that there is a question as to whether Our Lady knew that the Baby she was carrying was the Messiah, the Son of God, the Lord of Lords, Christ the King.

Here’s the short answer to that question: She knew.

Here’s how I know she knew.

When the Archangel Gabriel spoke to Mary, he asked — not told, but asked — her if she would consent to be the mother of the Son of God. He made it clear that was what he was asking.  He told her that the Holy Spirit would “come over her” and the “power of the most high would overshadow” her and for that reason the Holy Child will be called the Son of God. If that wasn’t clear enough, he also said, He will be called the Son of the Most High and the Lord will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.

Do you still wonder if Mary “knew?” Then flip forward a few pages and read the Magnificat. This incredible hymn of praise comes from the lips of a young girl who has just had what the angel told her recognized and confirmed by her cousin Elizabeth who said, Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me? when she saw Mary. Blessed are you, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, she said.

Elizabeth goes on to tell her that the baby she was carrying leapt in her womb in recognition of the presence of the unborn Christ Child.

Here is how Mary responded to this recognition. It is not the warbling of a naive youngster. It is the praise and acknowledgement of a theologically aware woman who knew absolutely that she was the Mother of God. The answer to the song’s question, Mary did you know? is yes, absolutely. She knew.

My soul magnifies the Lord
And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;
Because He has regarded the lowliness of His handmaid;
For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed;
Because He who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is His name;
And His mercy is from generation to generation
on those who fear Him.
He has shown might with His arm,
He has scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and has exalted the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich He has sent away empty.
He has given help to Israel, his servant, mindful of His mercy
Even as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity forever.

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