The Power of One

Deacon Greg has a homily up for this Sunday that is a cut-and-a-half above his usual superb offering:

This week, in the Boston Globe, I read the story of an elderly couple named Sol and Rita Rogers. They’ve been married 61 years. They’ve raised a family and lived a long and happy life together. A few years ago, that began to change. Rita developed Alzheimer’s. And she is slipping deeper and deeper into dementia.

Several weeks ago, she was taken to a health care center, where she now has to live. The first few days, she screamed and talked incoherently. She could barely form words with her mouth. Most tragically, she could no longer recognize her husband. She had no idea who he was. This was agony for him. He would go home from visiting her, trembling with grief, overwhelmed by sadness.

One morning, he went into her room, and saw her lying there and had an idea – an idea, he said, that could only have come from God. Sol climbed into his wife’s tiny twin bed, and put his arms around her. And he just held her. He hugged her. He whispered to her. That’s all. But something happened. As he put it, “I got into bed with her and loved her and it lifted my depression.” And Rita was transformed, too. She responded to his touch. And she began to talk.

He now does it every day. Rita’s doctor says that her “old memory” recalls being in his arms, remembers how he used to hold her, and part of her is able to come back.

Now Sol spends a couple of hours of every day, just holding Rita, telling her he loves her, and she tells him she loves him. Just as they have for 61 years.

I can’t think of a more beautiful example of what married love is all about – for better or for worse, in sickness and in health. The venerable Matt Talbot said that it is constancy that God wants. Persistence. Perseverance. Sol Rogers had that – and more.

And so did the Canaanite woman in today’s gospel…

Read on… this is a powerful and masterful exposition and when I read it, it gave me goosebumps. The story of Sol’s love for his wife is astonishing and moving, but more than that this is something we really need to read and absorb. It is is a reminder that life cannot be looked at as a purely utilitarian venture – that while one lives, one is entitled to the life one has, especially if there is a person – one single person on earth – who is willing to love that life. And even if not.

We forget that at our terrible peril.

UPDATE: For another wonderful story – albeit, completely different, go here.

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About Elizabeth Scalia