Prayer for a Good Vacation

12-30-2018The World in View from a Believer’s PerspectiveFr. Larry Merta

Here's an image from our 2nd Annual Summer Family Camp in Flagstaff. Steve Cosentino, one of our dedicated ministers to our parish marriage preparation team and a extraordinary minister of holy communion. He had the best idea of all: taking an afternoon nap while the kids and parents were out playing kick ball. I will be following his example for a few days after the Christmas Octave. I will also take along a card of a Prayer For A Good Vacation.


Merry Christmas

12-23-2018The World in View from a Believer’s PerspectiveFr. Larry Merta

Last October, I composed this shot on the last evening of my annual retreat in Abiquiu New Mexico. On the quiet and still landscape I recalled that on the other side of the world over two thousand years ago, shepherds tended their flocks. I stood there behind the tripod imagining the sequence of the original Christmas story: countless angelic hosts appeared in a flash of glory to serenade the shepherds with the unimaginable news. Heaven sent its own invitation to have them search for a newborn Infant—the God Man. That night turned festive for Bethlehem’s humble shepherds. Never doubt the power of landscapes to introduce you into the contemplation of God’s History of Salvation.


Preventing Caregiver Burnout

12-23-2018On the Caregiving Journey…

One of the greatest challenges that caregivers face, especially during the holiday season is caregiver burnout. As caregivers devote more hours to provide increasingly more complex care for their loved ones while still managing all their other responsibilities, burnout, or compassion fatigue, starts to set in. How does a caregiver know he/she has compassion fatigue? There are many indicators that include being irritable, resentful, angry, depressed, annoyed, exhausted, frustrated, sarcastic, pessimistic, apathetic and overwhelmed. If you are experiencing one or more of these on a frequent, regular basis, then you may be experiencing compassion fatigue.


How to Handle Hurt during the Holidays

12-23-2018On the Caregiving Journey…

The holidays are meant to be a joyous time spent with family and friends. For those who may be mourning the death of a loved one, the holidays can be very depressing in addition to stressful. Some of the stress comes from others who mean well, but do not know how to be supportive of someone who is grieving. To make the holidays less stressful, share this column with your family members and friends so that they know what is and is not appropriate.


Growing in Friendship with God

12-16-2018The World in View from a Believer’s PerspectiveFr. Larry Merta

The mark of a good friend is someone who's not afraid to tell you what you don't want to hear—because it's good and even necessary to do so. Fr. John Greb from St. Timothy Parish is one of those guys. Many of you know him. Years ago, he served under Fr. Richard Felt as an associate. Friendship with God works the same way. Growing in friendship with God will cost you regular time that you've got to dedicate to prayer. And as with any good friend, God's subtlety is never lacking in showing us where we veer and what we need to do to get back on the straight and narrow. But to get there, we need to listen to Him—a lot.


Surviving the Holidays

12-16-2018On the Caregiving Journey…

The holidays are meant to be a joyous time spent with family and friends. For those who may be mourning the death of a loved one, the holidays can be very depressing in addition to stressful. One of the greatest challenges, especially in the first two years of grieving, is trying to get through the holidays with the least amount of stress and sorrow. AARP offers several tips that can make this challenge manageable including the following:



12-09-2018The World in View from a Believer’s PerspectiveFr. Larry Merta

Here's a shot on Granville Island, Vancouver, British Columbia. How about this image of some trucker's nice toy that he saved many a penny to buy! It's certainly a switch of scenery, and the feel of travel, no doubt, quite different. When I grew up in South Texas I figured I would want to live a good other portion of my life in a pine forest. Not a few of our Holy Cross parishioners left the snowbelt for the sunbelt. The frantic pace of the West Coast brings settlement to Utah in search of the quiet beauty of the natural surroundings. The humidity of the Bible Belt has others discover the beauty of the Southwest desert. Island fever from Hawaii can be alleviated with a domicile in the continental US.


Virtual Support Groups

12-09-2018On the Caregiving Journey…

Are you feeling the stress of helping someone take care of him/herself? Are you experiencing a roller coaster of emotions that actually surprise you? Perhaps you are experiencing frustration, resentment, guilt, and anger at your loved one for making demands on your time. These feelings are normal when you take care of another person whether or not you call yourself a caregiver. How does one get off the roller coaster? One of the best ways is to attend a support group that allows you to interact with your peers – others who are taking care of their loved ones and experiencing many of the same emotions.


Our Good Works

12-02-2018The World in View from a Believer’s PerspectiveFr. Larry Merta

The Wakodahatchee Wetlands near Boyton Beach, Florida are teeming with migrant birds like this adult Anhinga. Had I taken another step, this specimen would have set sail for the sky. Somehow these birds had me thinking about our winter parishioners, our brothers in sisters in Christ who worship during the cooler months of the year with the year-round members of Holy Cross. Winter parishioners are parishioners, not snowbirds. That's what you are. Parishioners. I admire them as they seasonally participate in St. Vincent de Paul, as they head to the Council to meet the new office among our Knights, as they serve our indoor regularly scheduled Mass ministries. I am most grateful to God that you are using your gifts while you can. We grow in merit when we do so.


Journeying through Grief during the Holidays

12-02-2018On the Caregiving Journey…

The holidays are a time of family celebrations steeped in tradition. However, for those who are grieving, holidays can be very stressful. The issue is how to get through the holidays with the least amount of stress. With the use of a few tips, this can be possible. The Palliative Care Organization of Australia has developed a list of eleven tips to help those who are grieving.


Prayers for the Deceased

11-25-2018The World in View from a Believer’s PerspectiveFr. Larry Merta

We began the month of November with two masses intended to help us remember the multitude of uncanonized saints and the members of the suffering Church who are deceased and who need our prayers to be delivered from their purgation. We have celebrated these masses at Holy Cross with a special remembrance for our own deceased written in the pages of the memorial book. The Church instructs us to pray for the dead and offers masses and special prayers on behalf of the deceased. All of this is meant, of course, for us to intercede on behalf of those we loved and those that suffer. It is also meant to have us meditate well and often on our own inevitable passing, a moment reserved to God when we will stand before Him in judgment. We should share these beliefs and practices with our children and grandchildren, that they too make pray for us at our passing and not simply say nice things about us at our funeral.


Helpful Holiday Hints for Caregivers

11-25-2018On the Caregiving Journey…

The holidays can be very stressful for everyone including caregivers and care receivers. The Caregiver Alliance provides tips on how to handle holiday preparations and reduce stress. The following are some of their tips:

  • Include your loved one in some of the preparations focusing on his/her strengths.
  • When decorating, try to keep the clutter to a minimum to decrease confusion.


11-18-2018The World in View from a Believer’s PerspectiveFr. Larry Merta

Architectural marvels reveal their grandiose scale when we notice their perspective to something else. I failed to be impressed the first time I walked into St. Peter's Basilica and gazed upon the lofty shapes and forms of the ceiling. Then one of my confreres told me to gently lower my vision to the floor and compare the vaulting against the ant-sized human beings on the far end of the Church. It was that perspective that dropped my jaw in awe.


A Great Resourse can be the Caregiver's Insurance Company

11-11-2018On the Caregiving Journey…

One resource for caregivers that is often overlooked is the care receiver's health care insurance provider. Most of the major health insurance companies provide a variety of resources that can be accessed by caregivers.

  • Need some helpful advice and decision-making support as you care for your loved one?
  • Looking for a registered nurse to conduct an in-person health overview of your loved one?
  • Need someone to assess the safety of your loved one's living arrangements?
  • Looking for a calendar tool to manage your loved one's support and care?
  • Need some help in finding and arranging for community-based programs and services to support your loved one?

Public Faith

11-11-2018The World in View from a Believer’s PerspectiveFr. Larry Merta

Joe and Josie Malakieh are faithful parishioners several months out of the year down here when they're not in Vancouver. I was delighted to stay several days with them enjoying the sights and sounds of the gorgeous countryside. They took me to a scenic overlook of their city, but this group of Buddhist monks got my attention first. Two of the four were sporting camera gear!


The Grief Journey

11-04-2018On the Caregiving Journey…

No two grief journeys are alike; all grief journeys are different. Two individuals grieving the same person, such as a wife grieving the loss of her husband and a daughter grieving the loss of her father (same person), will often experience entirely different journeys based upon their own relationships with the deceased. In addition, a person who has grieved the loss of two or more loved ones will find that each journey was different from the others again based upon each unique relationship. It is not unusual for a person to grieve the loss of one loved one more than the loss of another. It is important to remember this point – that all grief journeys are different – and not make comparisons as a person might think something is wrong because his/her journey is longer or shorter, more stressful or less stressful, or more complicated or less complicated than another person’s journey or the journey traveled for a previous loss. Each journey through grief is as unique as the person who is experiencing it.

Sacrifice for Jesus

11-04-2018The World in View from a Believer’s PerspectiveFr. Larry Merta

Here's a gem of a photo from the 2nd Annual Holy Cross Family Camp this past July near Mormon Lake. I asked for a Cheeto and she did not hesitate to share with me a handful. Such lessons are learned at home. I suspect her happy display of generosity was the fruit of her family experience where the needs of another come before the wants of the self.


Parish Family

10-21-2018The World in View from a Believer’s PerspectiveFr. Larry Merta

I got to know a little more the youngest members of my Parish Family during the Youth Hike to the Dells in Prescott last June. My discovery: the mind is youthful the body is not. They were frolicking the hilltops like newborn calves, running circles around me, getting acquainted with the rapid and heavy breathing of a 50-year-old.


Peaceful Surroundings

10-14-2018The World in View from a Believer’s PerspectiveFr. Larry Merta

Before taking a few days of rest away from Arizona I noticed that my reading habits were not where they should be. I read things more like one has enough time to read headlines. Comprehension and retention were more difficult. So, I decided to go to an easy and pleasant read to help foster the love for reading I once had. I took with me on vacation Fr. Walter Ciszek's With God in Russia. It is his account of spending 23 years in Soviet prisons and labor camps located in one of the harshest climates on earth— Siberia. This Pennsylvania born Jesuit priest came back to the States in a spy swap in 1962.


Prepare to Care: Planning Guide for Families

10-14-2018On the Caregiving Journey…

You, like many other people, may have just learned that your loved one has been diagnosed with a chronic, serious and/or terminal health condition. As the significance of this situation sinks in, you may have also realized that you are now becoming a caregiver possibly facing a long journey. You may be asking yourself, "Where do I start?"