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Letters to the Editor for May 14-20, 2017

Letters to the Editor for May 14-20, 2017

Science reflects natural truths, but those truths can be exploited Re: “Faith and science” (Editorial, May 7-13). I certainly am no scientist and did poorly in my science courses in high school and college, with the exception of biology, in which I was fairly competent. I agree that because a new human being comes into existence at the moment of conception/fertilization, that “it must follow that science should respect embryos as human beings.” However, the unfortunate reality in our culture is that there is no such mandate. My high school physics teacher, a Marianist religious brother, was very well-versed in the field, but he pointed out that while scientific knowledge was neutral, how it was implemented was not. He explained that technology could distort scientific facts and that such knowledge could be used in immoral ways. — Tim Donovan, via online comments First Commandment Re: “The Ten Commandments” (In Focus, March 26-April 1). A discussion of the First Commandment of God should have included the fact that more than 3 billion people on earth worship false gods. Having in mind that God “wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth” (1 Tm 2:4), one finds it difficult to understand how this great number of people could be saved. The death of Jesus Christ on the cross and of the martyred saints who roamed the world spreading the Gospel seem to have been stymied by the fact that people who worship false gods have increased. — Reynaldo O. Yana , Saipan Imprisonment Re: “Prison system” (Letters to the Editor, May 7-13). Thank you, Father Gordon J. MacRae, for advising us of this great tragedy. Although the entire story of imprisonment is somber, for myself, I appreciate that you’ve informed us of the great injustice of ICE deportation. Things are bad enough that people like you are being punished for pleading innocent, now this story of ICE. God help us. We are a confused nation who got even more confused when we kicked God out of schools. — Helen Tangradi, via online comment Witness of faith Re: “Model of joy and faith” (Taking Note, May 7-13). Thank you for writing such a beautiful tribute. I wish I had known her, but feel like I do just a little thanks to you. — Angela Pellerano , via online comment Divine Mercy Re: “‘Jesus, I trust in you’: Stories of Divine Mercy” (In Focus, April 23-29). I was blessed by an uplifting confessor on Mercy Sunday in Dayton, Ohio, and would like to thank him and all of our priests. — Michael McCready , via email Top-Viewed Articles The most popular stories on OSV.com this week included: 1. Faith-filled business leaders witness to success (News Analysis, May 7-13) 2. Model of joy and faith (Taking Note, May 7-13) 3. The meaning of Fatima: 100 years later (In Focus, Jan. 1-7) 4. Do animals go to heaven? (News Analysis, Jan. 4, 2015) 5. Young people are leaving the Faith. Here’s why (In Focus, Aug. 28, 2016) 6. What every Catholic needs to know about funerals (In Focus, Oct. 9, 2011) 7. Figuring out God’s will for you right here, right now (Faith, April 30-May 6) 8. Top 10 Catholic cities, USA (In Focus, June 2, 2013) 9. Katharine Drexel shrine to close at year’s end (News Analysis, April 23-29) 10. Catholic scientists discuss faith’s role in work (News Analysis, May 7-13) read on

A real ratings killer

A real ratings killer

The Lifetime cable channel is one of the many bottom feeders hanging around the current television industry. Not a premium channel, it is a toss-in for cable subscribers, one of those myriad stations a couch potato usually surfs past between looking for the game and the news. The last Sunday of April, however, Lifetime launched a six-episode “dramedy” series, “Mary Kills People.” It’s hoping for attention. The show gives us one Mary Harris as a sharp-talking emergency room physician who, for a second job, kills the terminally ill for money. The going rate seems to be $10,000, which she splits with her wisecracking assistant, a cosmetic surgeon. The show tries to mix in with the drama what it perceives as a few ironic laughs, especially at the expense of the dying. In the premier, Mary shoots up a half-filled champagne flute with poison, then hands it over to the victim. He seems to be having second thoughts, but she reassures him, and he drinks it down. Then the fun begins. The victim’s wife comes home unexpectedly and begins calling for him. Mary and her partner make a dash for a quick balcony escape, then she rushes back in because she forgot the money. To her horror, she finds that her victim is still alive. She suffocates him with a pillow though he tries to protest that he has changed his mind. Our heroes leap from the balcony, crash-land and escape with the money. I fully expected the Roadrunner to then show up with a “beep-beep.” “Mary Kills People” is a horror on all levels, the only unifying theme being the blanket advocacy of what the show presents as the unquestionable good in helping the terminally ill kill themselves. “Doctors feel it is important for patients to choose their death,” Mary explains in one of her trite apologias, though she does wonder to her joke-cracking partner if he is “a compassionate doctor or a serial killer.” In a case of life imitating art, only weeks before “Mary Kills People” premiered, Donald Harvey was killed by a fellow inmate in the Toledo Correctional Institution in Ohio. Harvey was one of the most prolific murderers in U.S. history, killing at least 37 people, but likely many more as he thought the number was closer to 70. Most of his victims were hospital patients in Ohio and Kentucky where he worked over two decades. He killed those terminally ill or aged patients because he could and because he liked to kill them — it gave him a sense of power over life and death. Like Mary’s explanation for her work. Additionally, like those involved with “Mary Kills People,” he thought it was kind of funny. According to The New York Times story after his death, his co-workers gave him “nicknames like the Kiss of Death” and “joked about the number of patients who died while he was on duty. Mr. Harvey joined in the joking, and because his victims were old or in poor health, their deaths did not arouse much suspicion.” “Mary Kills People” is television gone evil. And, as evil so often does, it spreads its tentacles. Like what you’re reading? Subscribe now in print or digital . One of the lead advertisers on that first show was Domino’s Pizza. Founded by the devout and dynamic lay Catholic leader Tom Monaghan (he sold it in 1998), Domino’s was once boycotted by pro-abortion zealots because of Monaghan’s staunch support of pro-life causes. Now it’s shilling pies on a show killing the terminally ill for laughs and ratings. Lifetime itself is a subsidiary of A+E Networks, owned by the Hearst Corporation. And The Walt Disney Company. “When you wish upon a star ….” That’s entertainment. Robert P. Lockwood writes from Indiana. Follow him on Twitter @BobPLockwood . read on

Stemming the tide

Stemming the tide

It is a new day, and it dramatically is affecting the Catholic Church, along with other religious denominations. No end is in sight. Until now, a strong factor in very many Catholics’ religious lives was their attachment to a Catholic “culture.” Often, it involved family ties and heritage. Catholics tended to hold on to the Church because they were reared as Catholics by Catholic parents, likely attended Catholic schools and quite often viewed life from a Catholic perspective. Catholicism was part of their DNA. This is changing altogether, and the change is picking up speed. For example, look at two public figures recently in the news. Vice President Mike Pence is from a staunchly Catholic Irish-American family in Indiana, “Irish as Paddy’s pig.” He was an altar boy. He went to Catholic schools. Then, as a young man, he left the Catholic Church and became an evangelical Protestant. He has reared his children as Protestants. The new Supreme Court associate justice, Neal Gorsuch, comes from a Catholic background. He attended Catholic schools. Then, also in early adulthood, he left the Catholic Church. Until moving to Washington to serve on the Supreme Court, he was a member of an Episcopal congregation in Colorado. Without guessing about what is in these men’s hearts, it is a fact that they are two of very, very many people with similar experiences. Throughout the United States, men and women by the thousands, regardless of their Irish, or Italian, or Polish, or Spanish heritages, are leaving the Church. “Former Catholics” compose the second largest religious group in this country. Many other Americans still express association with the Catholic Church but irregularly if ever attend Mass and have views inconsistent with Church teaching. Almost always these are signs of the first steps out the door. The same thing occurred in the past when Catholic immigrants flooded into this country. Many fell away from the Church. (Our histories rarely tell this story.) What does it mean? American Catholicism in 50 years will be different. Catholics simply will not be as many as today. Catholicism will less visible. Catholic institutions will be fewer. Why? The children of today’s less than fervent Catholics, or of former Catholics, will not identify with the Church of their parents and grandparents. Look at other denominations. Most are losing ground precariously. In my home diocese of Nashville, Tennessee, two new Catholic parishes recently formed. Once, new Catholic parishes had to build facilities for their use, but these two new parishes in Nashville simply bought, and moved into, buildings sold by Protestant denominations with severely dwindling congregations. All this summons older American Catholics to awaken. Youth will no longer be satisfied with family tradition, or childhood attachments, or even with intellectual points, when it comes to religion. They will make their own decisions, very much moved by what they see as working. Like what you’re reading? Subscribe now in print or digital . Mature Catholics can have an influence, not always by theological argument, although Catholics must be able to explain our Church’s teaching, but if they display that being a faithful Catholic brings great rewards to lives and uplifts and beautifies human experience. Love and live the Faith. Love the Church. Pray that all humbly will hear God’s Holy Spirit. Five hundred years ago, St. Francis de Sales, a brilliant French bishop, said that Catholics could draw others to the Church, not by bitterness and demand, but by proving by their lives that Catholicism works. Msgr. Owen F. Campion is OSV’s chaplain. read on

Editorial: Cycle of nonviolence

Editorial: Cycle of nonviolence

Pope Francis’ trip to Egypt at the end of April, the 18th overseas trip of his pontificate, began under a cloud of violence and fear due to the Palm Sunday bombings of two Coptic Orthodox churches in the country three weeks earlier. The bombings naturally raised questions about the pope’s safety, and Vatican spokesman Greg Burke acknowledged these concerns. Tight security, he added, is a “new normal.” And so the pope characteristically pressed on with his visit, and in doing so, his trip to Egypt spoke volumes about how followers of Christ are called to respond to violence. In visiting with Coptic Christians and Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II just three weeks following the bombings that killed nearly 50 faithful and injured more than 100 others, Pope Francis was present with people in their mourning and suffering, but he also took the opportunity to build bridges of unity through the encounter. He signed a joint agreement with Pope Tawadros that each Church would recognize the other’s baptism, a significant move as the Coptic Orthodox had previously required new members, including baptized Catholics, to be baptized again. Related Reading Pope Francis preaches peace, unity in Egypt Pope Francis didn’t limit his bridge-building to other Christians. In his visit to al-Azhar University in Cairo, he dialogued with the country’s Sunni Muslim religious leaders, addressing root causes of the societal ills that led to the Palm Sunday attacks. In particular, he addressed the responsibility of all religious leaders to take the lead in stopping people from engaging in violence in the name of religion. “As religious leaders, we are called, therefore, to unmask the violence that masquerades as purported sanctity and is based more on the ‘absolutizing’ of selfishness than on authentic openness to the Absolute,” he said. “We have an obligation to denounce violations of human dignity and human rights, to expose attempts to justify every form of hatred in the name of religion and to condemn these attempts as idolatrous caricatures of God.” He noted that “it is of little or no use to raise our voices and run about to find weapons for our protection: What is needed today are peacemakers, not makers of arms; what is needed are peacemakers and not fomenters of conflict; firefighters and not arsonists; preachers of reconciliation and not instigators of destruction.” On the return flight to Rome, Pope Francis looked beyond violence in Egypt to the growing signs of conflict between the United States and North Korea. “I always call (for) resolving problems through the diplomatic path, negotiations,” because the future of humanity depends on it, the pope said. Like what you’re reading? Subscribe now in print or digital . In Pope Francis’ brief visit to Egypt, we saw him once again model with his actions what he so often tries to teach with his words. His response to violence is not to flee, or even stay away, but to draw nearer to those affected, engage them lovingly and invite all people, especially those from different backgrounds, into respectful dialogue and encounter with one another — all with an intentional focus toward preventing future violence. Francis knows this is the path to lasting peace — a path that would engender great potential if more Christians, as well as believers of other religious traditions, joined him. As the pope noted in his recent TED Talk, “Hope began with one ‘you.’ When there is an ‘us,’ there begins a revolution.” We can all pray and model with our hearts and actions the hope that this becomes another “new normal.” Editorial Board: Greg Willits, editorial director; Gretchen R. Crowe, editor-in-chief; Don Clemmer, managing editor read on

Coptic Christians

Coptic Christians

Coptic Christianity suddenly was in the headlines. It was good news at first. Pope Francis was planning to visit Egypt. He would meet Coptic Christians while there. Then, the news was bad. Terrorists bombed Coptic Christian churches on Palm Sunday, slaughtering many innocent people. These attacks on Coptic Orthodox churches in Egypt were horrendous in themselves, but they were only the most recent of many outrages that Coptic Christians have endured over the years. Who are the Coptic Christians? Christianity has been in Egypt since the days of the apostles. It is said that St. Mark the Evangelist, considered by some to have been an early disciple of Jesus who later was associated with St. Peter, went to Alexandria, still today a great city in Egypt, a Mediterranean seaport. Two millennia ago, it was the second most important city of the Roman Empire. Alexandria came to be, and is today, the center of Coptic Christianity. It is hard to believe, but within a few centuries after Christ, Coptic Christianity was the major religion in Egypt. It also had been taken to Ethiopia, where incidentally it still is the dominant religion. Then came the Arab Muslim sweep across North Africa. Many Christians converted, or were forced to convert, to Islam, but Coptic Christianity never died altogether. In the fifth century, the Coptic Christians severed their union with the papacy. About 300 years ago, a segment within Coptic Christianity restored this union, but the majority of Copts remained Orthodox, separated from Rome. The Coptic Orthodox title the head of their church the “pope.” Presently Pope Tawadros II is head of the Coptic Orthodox communion. Heading the Coptic Catholics is the patriarch of Alexandria, the diocese believed to have been founded by St. Mark, Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac Sidrak. Aside from Alexandria, six other Coptic Catholic dioceses, or eparchies, are in Egypt. Obviously, Coptic Catholics believe all that other Catholics believe. Coptic Orthodox do not accept the authority of the bishop of Rome, but they celebrate seven sacraments. They believe that deacons, priests and bishops are ordained and are in a line that began with the apostles. They believe that the Lord is present, body, blood, soul and divinity, in the Eucharist. In several other matters, however, they differ from Roman Catholic teaching. For both Coptic Catholics and Catholic Orthodox, the liturgy is in Coptic, the ancient language of Egypt, and from the language, their religious tradition draws its name. Like what you’re reading? Subscribe now in print or digital . For almost a millennium and a half, Coptic Christians, Coptic Catholics and Coptic Orthodox, have had a hard way to go. For a while, Britain dominated Egypt, and Christians were in a more protected situation. Since Egypt attained full independence, in living memory, Christians have lived through days of peace but also through many days of persecution or at least harassment. The turmoil that has existed in Egypt for the past several years hardly has helped the situation. Coptic Catholic parishes exist in the United States in Boston, Brooklyn, Los Angeles and Nashville. They are responsible to Patriarch Sidrak, not to the local bishop of the Latin rite. Recently, as unrest has intensified in the Middle East, and especially in Egypt, more Coptic Christians, both Catholic and Orthodox, have come to the United States. Not surprisingly, many Egyptian Christians worry about the future. The future of this pattern is unclear, as it is not known how, or if, the Trump Administration will handle such immigration. Msgr. Owen F. Campion is OSV’s chaplain. read on

The Benefits of Reconciliation

Category 22 (Reconciliation) – The Benefits of Reconciliation, The Hidden Treasure that is Confession Click here to read it now. read on

Letters to the editor for April 9-15, 2017

Letters to the editor for April 9-15, 2017

Gender confusion Re: “How to talk to your kids about gender issues” (In Focus, March 12-28). Man and woman are created by God to honor and praise him. How does “transgender” fit into that equation? How can altering one’s sex make one pleasing to God? God knows each and every one of us by our name. By changing one’s body and name, does that make it right in the eyes of God? — Craig Galik Duquesne , Pennsylvania Re: “Mother Frances Cabrini: An immigrant who shows us the way” (Faith, April 2-8). Having attended Catholic schools in the Bronx, New York, in the late 1940s, and later Hastings and New Rochelle (St. Jerome’s, St. Clare’s and Iona), I remember the stories — and the love and respect for Mother Cabrini. We were all descendants of immigrants, from Ireland, Italy, Germany and more — later from throughout Russia and Eastern Europe. Society worked to integrate people from Puerto Rico and African-Americans from the South. Now we are locked in a dilemma. How do we continue to welcome new people while preserving the core values that have allowed us to be the most welcoming and the most generous nation in the history of the world? It is too easy to castigate those of us who worry about open Southern borders and unrestricted immigration from the war-torn Middle East. Some of our schools are simply unable to cope with the influx of young people who speak no English and disregard our customs and conventions. Our family has sponsored immigrants, and we contribute to supportive charities. However, we find it too easy for many to imply that we need open doors to unrestricted immigration. The reality of a militant strain of Islam, the problems we see in Europe and the reality of terrorism must be dealt with — although I hear little about these from the pope and other Church leaders. We seem to forget about the idea of formulating policies which would create safety and peace in other parts of the world, thereby allowing people to stay in their native homelands. We need “safe zones” overseas and we need a rational military policy that deals with the cause of dislocation. We need balance. Thomas J. Fields Jr. , Springfield, Virginia Porn addiction Re: “Pornography: a growing public health crisis” ; (News Analysis, March 19-25). The articles about porn addiction have been good in that they show how destructive this disease is. But each article stops before giving any solution. But there is a solution. I am a Catholic priest, and I was addicted to sex from age 12 to 42. I was in despair for years because I could not find a priest who understood sex addiction or had any solution. Finally, I went to treatment for drug addiction and besides offering Alcoholics Anonymous I was introduced to Sexaholics Anonymous. I found hope at last. The program started in the 1980s. At this time I have 25 years of sexual sobriety. I am happy and free. Please let your readers know where they can find hope. — Name and location withheld Re: “Priest hits the street fishing for souls” (Faith, March 19-25). When I read of St. Joseph, Missouri, I recognized the birthplace of Pony Express and Walter Cronkite. Now, I can remember and pray for resident Father Lawrence Carney: visible contemplative-in-action Christ figure, fisherman of souls, bearer of Mary to the masses. And doesn’t he do as Pope Francis asks of his priests to “wear your shoes down” while exercising a reminder of Archbishop José Gomez that we are called to holiness — to heaven — and to bring as many people as possible along with us. Continued courage to you, Father Carney. — Bretta Ribbing , Manchester, Missouri Top-Viewed Articles The most popular stories on OSV.com this week included: 1. Charismatic renewal movement turns 50 (News Analysis, March 26-April 1) 2. Priest hits the street fishing for souls (Faith, March 19-25) 3. Health care debate draws Catholic voices (News Analysis, April 2-8) 4. Mid-Lent joy (Faith, March 26-April 1) 5. Young people are leaving the faith. Here’;s why (In Focus, Aug. … read on

Attentiveness to God

Attentiveness to God

“Take time to heal your inner self through meditation. Give your mind a few moments of ‘nothingness’ each day. Concentrate on your breathing to achieve a state of relaxation and peacefulness.” After a long conference day — speaking and meeting readers and friends and supporters — my temptation was to see what Donald Trump event had everyone buzzin. But the note, flagged “meditation,” left by the room attendant was enough to prod an examination of conscience: What really is the best use of a few minutes of downtime? Recollection or MSNBC? While the note would not offend any “spiritual not religious” sensibilities, it did strike me as refreshingly countercultural. As traffic below whisked by the windows, even at a late hour, all into the night and early morning, the message was about slowing down and tuning out the noise. Slowing down may happen, but what do we do and what do we pour into ourselves as we do so? In his book, “ Contemplative Provocations ” (Ignatius, $17.95), Father Donald Haggerty, a New York archdiocesan priest who has spent extensive time with the Missionaries of Charity, writes about the “need for recollection as a prelude to prayer.” He says that it “contains a certain dilemma besides the difficulty of attaining it. It implies that a mental concentration is necessary if one is to pray. And so the demand to corral our wandering thoughts, to tie them down and keep them from breaching the enclosure of prayer. If we succeed in this effort, it is thought, we can presumably dwell on ‘spiritual things.’” The challenge, as always, is about love. “Attentiveness to God is desirable in prayer,” Father Haggerty writes. “But the attention we are to cultivate comes from love, not a mental discipline directed simply at thoughts. What we should seek is a recollection that surrenders us to someone entirely beyond our thought, a beloved who will never stop to rest for long within a particular thought.” In other words, it’s not about nothing, and it’s not about us, either, and our initiative or strategy. It’s about what God wants to do with the time we give. It’s about trusting God with our whole lives. It’s about letting him show us what he wants that to look like. Our challenge is the loving surrender to him to do with us as he wills. That “spiritual not religious” trend may just be an indictment of what we’re doing with our free time. How much of it is in adoration? How much of it is in self-giving? Do we convey joy, even while “off duty”? How “ All In ,” as Pat Gohn writes in the title of her recent book on faith are we, really? When Mother Angelica — whose eventual beatification Mass I’m looking forward to —died around this time last year, the Mass program for the Mass in Hanceville, Alabama, included, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Cor 3:18). Is that happening? Is that what we’re giving ourselves over to? With every business trip and carpool — whatever it is we’re doing? Are we careful about what we pour into ourselves? Do we treat ourselves — one another — as the tabernacles he’s asked us to be? And do we take everything as a reminder that that’s who we are about — all in, all his? Are we beholding his glory wherever we are? With or without the rare explicit invitation, we must strive for a posture of being that is something more contemplative. Kathryn Jean Lopez is senior fellow at the National Review Institute, editor-at-large of National Review, and co-author of “ How to Defend the Faith Without Raising Your Voice” (OSV, $17.95). read on

The gift of aligning one’s self with Christ’s suffering

The gift of aligning one’s self with Christ’s suffering

A little less than halfway through my pregnancy, a reader wrote me a delightful note saying something to the effect of, “Oh, the joys of being pregnant during Advent!” And she was right. When I was 20 weeks along, with my baby just starting to show and the flutterings of new life just beginning to be made known inside me, I found myself thinking often of the Blessed Mother, trying to align my wonderings with hers and to conform my appreciation of the miracle of life with her. It was a beautiful time and, the reader was absolutely correct, a complete joy. Since then, however, four months have passed, and I am beginning to be able to relate pregnancy with our current liturgical season of Lent. This isn’t to say that the wonderings and the appreciation are gone. Far from it. Every day I am awed by the growing miracle of life that is happening inside my body. It is a blessing and a gift, beyond any I could have ever imagined — even already. But I’m finding that the journey, now so close to being over, is less represented by gentle Advent wonderings and instead is more in tune with the Way of the Cross. I’m breathing a little heavier these days, unable to sing as loudly or as much as I usually like. Walking down the halls at work, sometimes I wish I had a scooter. Everything hurts a little more. Everything is a little harder to accomplish. Everything makes me that much more inclined to take a mid-afternoon nap. Even in trying not to grumble, I find myself doing a little extra whining these days. I feel especially bad about this given the fact that I am, in essence, a Lenten failure this year. My commitment to daily Mass has floundered, with my attendance at less than 50 percent. Since eating is my second job these days, I opted out of sacrificing any type of food this year (whether nourishing or not). My prayer life has been erratic and distracted. (“Hail Mary, full of grace, I should really get that hospital bag packed,” for example.) Enter my husband, for whom I am perpetually grateful. His commitment to Evening Prayer during Lent for the both of us has kept me somewhat focused — or at least somewhat attuned to the fact that, yes, we actually are in the season of Lent. Despite these failures, I suppose this means that there is an even greater opportunity for me to attempt to find holiness during Palm Sunday and Holy Week this year. To be able to align my insignificant aches and pains of this season of life with Jesus’ suffering on the cross is a great gift, one of which should be taken advantage. Our sacrifices are nothing compared to his. Suffering is never easy. It’s never what we would choose. But that’s why it’s so powerful. And it’s why the rewards are so great — be they sanctification, salvation or the miracle of welcoming new life into the world. For that, I’ll take the aches and pains any day. feedback@osv.com read on

The gift of aligning one’s self with Christ’s suffering

The gift of aligning one’s self with Christ’s suffering

A little less than halfway through my pregnancy, a reader wrote me a delightful note saying something to the effect of, “Oh, the joys of being pregnant during Advent!” And she was right. When I was 20 weeks along, with my baby just starting to show and the flutterings of new life just beginning to be made known inside me, I found myself thinking often of the Blessed Mother, trying to align my wonderings with hers and to conform my appreciation of the miracle of life with her. It was a beautiful time and, the reader was absolutely correct, a complete joy. Since then, however, four months have passed, and I am beginning to be able to relate pregnancy with our current liturgical season of Lent. This isn’t to say that the wonderings and the appreciation are gone. Far from it. Every day I am awed by the growing miracle of life that is happening inside my body. It is a blessing and a gift, beyond any I could have ever imagined — even already. But I’m finding that the journey, now so close to being over, is less represented by gentle Advent wonderings and instead is more in tune with the Way of the Cross. I’m breathing a little heavier these days, unable to sing as loudly or as much as I usually like. Walking down the halls at work, sometimes I wish I had a scooter. Everything hurts a little more. Everything is a little harder to accomplish. Everything makes me that much more inclined to take a mid-afternoon nap. Even in trying not to grumble, I find myself doing a little extra whining these days. I feel especially bad about this given the fact that I am, in essence, a Lenten failure this year. My commitment to daily Mass has floundered, with my attendance at less than 50 percent. Since eating is my second job these days, I opted out of sacrificing any type of food this year (whether nourishing or not). My prayer life has been erratic and distracted. (“Hail Mary, full of grace, I should really get that hospital bag packed,” for example.) Enter my husband, for whom I am perpetually grateful. His commitment to Evening Prayer during Lent for the both of us has kept me somewhat focused — or at least somewhat attuned to the fact that, yes, we actually are in the season of Lent. Despite these failures, I suppose this means that there is an even greater opportunity for me to attempt to find holiness during Palm Sunday and Holy Week this year. To be able to align my insignificant aches and pains of this season of life with Jesus’ suffering on the cross is a great gift, one of which should be taken advantage. Our sacrifices are nothing compared to his. Suffering is never easy. It’s never what we would choose. But that’s why it’s so powerful. And it’s why the rewards are so great — be they sanctification, salvation or the miracle of welcoming new life into the world. For that, I’ll take the aches and pains any day. feedback@osv.com read on