The Journey through Grief

02-24-2019Journeying through Grief

Living with and traveling through grief is indeed a journey, one that may be among the most challenging journeys of life. The journey through grief is the journey from darkness into light; from despair to hope; from denial to acceptance; from anger to peace; from crying to smiling; from lost to found. But, most of all, the grief journey is a journey from death to resurrection. When a loved one dies, mourners experience a type of dying. While they do not die physically, a part of them dies emotionally and spiritually. Life as they lived it will never be the same.

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Cooling Off

02-24-2019The World in View from a Believer’s PerspectiveFr. Larry Merta

Here's another image from Panama. You can expect 70% humidity at 85 degrees in the afternoon in Panama City year round. If you like the warmth in Miami, you probably wouldn't mind Panama. Our kids did mind though. They weren't used to T-shirts soaked through and through by sweat alone. After a morning catechesis on the way back to the Metro Train one of the locals offered us a refreshing mist. They were most grateful and the good old man was happy to shower them. The locals were very friendly, enjoying the fact that our Pontiff came to see them as well. Taxi drivers, local drivers honked their horns throughout our travels on foot welcoming us with many smiles. And I felt obliged and happy to bless them as they sped by.

Your Pastor,
Fr. Larry

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CAREversation Program

02-17-2019On the Caregiving Journey…

There are several organizations dedicated to helping caregivers with their caregiving responsibilities and duties. One of these organizations is AARP. An important way they are supporting caregivers is through their CAREversations program which is a free event for family caregivers.

The next CAREversation event will be held on Tue, Mar 5 from 5:00-7:00pm at Mi Amigo's Mexican Grill banquet room, 1264 S. Gilbert Road, Mesa 85204. If you are a caregiver taking care of a family member or loved one, you may want to take advantage of this opportunity to connect with fellow caregivers and exchange tips. The event will also include a presentation on the five key steps to aid caregivers in their caregiving journey. An additional presentation will provide information on local caregiving resources that are available in the Mesa area.

To register for the event, call 1-800-278-1045 or go to www.aarp.cvent.com/carephnx.

Pope Francis

02-17-2019The World in View from a Believer’s PerspectiveFr. Larry Merta

His face is perhaps the most recognized on earth. To see him up close was not so hard through a telephoto lens but I had to remember to put it down just to see him for myself in Panama. He asked us to pray for him on the Vigil of the closing mass. I actually felt pity for him: there was a slight slurring of speech, as if he had been very tired for a long time. We're no strangers to the difficulties he has had to deal with in the Church as our Pope. I pray for him more often, more so than before my trip. There was no opportunity to exchange some words with him, but had we—I am sure we would have encouraged each other.

Your Pastor,
Fr. Larry

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Trust & Perseverance

02-10-2019The World in View from a Believer’s PerspectiveFr. Larry Merta

The red rocks were slippery. Melting snow was everywhere. Fr. Steve stood too close to the edge for comfort as I watched him survey and frame his shot. But he entered my own frame and now my own image tells another story. Fr. Steve, Pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle in Phoenix is not the kind of man who lives for dares. He got his shot, though. And I trusted that he would. I haven’t seen his pictures yet from our recent trip to Moab, but my own image tells the story of someone who knows what he wants and gets out there to find it. It takes someone like the man in the picture to build a new grade school for his parish—and that’s exactly what he’s doing over at St. Thomas.

Your Pastor,
Fr. Larry

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Should Have...Could Have...Would Have

02-10-2019Journeying through Grief

Grieving can cause the mourner to experience a variety of emotions, remorse being one of them. Remorse can take the form of the mourner thinking of all the things that he/she should have or could have done, but didn’t do. If only I would have..., maybe things would have been better; maybe my loved one would have lived longer; maybe my loved one would not have suffered so much, etc. Living in the world of remorse is like falling into quicksand. This emotion can pull the mourner into a deep depression from which it is very difficult to escape. Sometimes the mourner wonders if his/her loved one and God will ever be able to forgive her/him for what was not done that could have been done. Eventually, he/she must open the door to healing by forgiving him/herself. With time, the grieving person will hopefully realize and accept that she/he did the best that she/he could do given the circumstances surrounding the loved one’s death.

Let's Talk

02-03-2019On the Caregiving Journey…

There may come a time when caregivers realize that their loved ones can no longer care for themselves safely in their own homes or the caregivers can no longer provide the needed care. Caregivers are then faced with the issue of trying to convince their loved ones of the necessity to live elsewhere. If not approached appropriately, a power struggle will ensue between caregivers and care receivers with the latter insisting on remaining in their homes. How can this topic be discussed without becoming a bitter divisive issue? According to Stella Henry, R.N., author of The Eldercare Handbook, the conversation needs to start early before a crisis situation has developed. In addition, caregivers should make the conversation about their own feelings such as: “I’m really concerned about your safety; it worries me to see you living this way” OR “I’m worried that I can no longer give you all the care you need.” This approach has greater potential for encouraging a dialogue than just demanding and insisting on a change. Once the dialogue begins, caregivers can explore various options with their care receivers.

Structure of the Church

02-03-2019The World in View from a Believer’s PerspectiveFr. Larry Merta

Go figure. There's an engineer who had fun designing these luxury flats near Granville Island, Vancouver. The design was approved by the city—and that means no worries. Things checked out. Or so we are told. And buyers are likely to have some flair for the dramatic, perhaps a touch of vanity also. It reminds me of Jesus' parable of the two builders: one built a house on sand, the other, rock. You know the story.

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The Health of your Soul

01-27-2019The World in View from a Believer’s PerspectiveFr. Larry Merta

Port Isabel, Texas, at sunset… The air seemed to cool off quickly after sundown. I realized I left my jacket in the car while enjoying the last twilight. I sat there quietly contemplating how the spiritual life parallels this phenomenon. When Christ our light fades from our concern, hence, when confession is put off needlessly, when we struggle to get to mass on Sunday because we do this more out of a sense of duty and not as the anticipated highlight of our week, when daily contemplative prayer becomes arduous to the point of saying to ourselves, 'why bother?', then yes, it won't be long before we stumble and fall into darkness. How far that darkness goes is anybody's guess.

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Grief Journey - Mileage Unknown

01-27-2019Journeying through Grief

Grief is often an experience filled with many surprises. One surprise that occurs frequently after the loved one has died comes in the form of an unexpected emotional response to something that reminds the mourner of his/her loved one.

For some, it may be a favorite song, the scent of a favorite perfume or after-shave, a "twin" who bears a striking resemblance to the deceased loved one, a favorite eating place, a favorite movie or television show. What may be shocking is that the response seems to come out of nowhere at a time when the mourner no long considers her/himself to be actively mourning. A surprise of this type is normal even if it happens several years after the initial period of mourning. It is part of the journey through grief that becomes easier with the passage of time, but is never totally completed. When the surprise occurs, it is best to experience and express the emotions instead of trying to suppress or ignore them. As time passes, the surprises occur less frequently and the intensity of the response diminishes.

Dealing with Alzheimer's and Dementia

01-20-2019On the Caregiving Journey…

One of the most devastating diseases is Alzheimer's and other types of dementia. According to the Alzheimer's Association, Alzheimer's/dementia is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. One out of every three seniors dies with Alzheimer's or another form of dementia. The most stressful journey for caregivers is taking care of someone with memory loss.

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Memorial

01-20-2019The World in View from a Believer’s PerspectiveFr. Larry Merta

At the Holocaust Memorial on Miami Beach the Memorial Wall lists names of loved ones who by and large were never buried (because of incineration) or because the mass graves were left unmarked. The Wall serves as the only permanent visible reminder for those whose remains were never located. Our Jewish brothers and sisters had the right idea to etch the names of their beloved on a memorial that has the possibility of surviving a few millennia.

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The Bereavement Journey

01-13-2019Journeying through Grief

Many people grieving the loss of a loved one may wonder if the journey is taking too long. Mourners may cling to the past afraid to let go of the life they once knew and afraid of what lies ahead. In this situation, the focus is on the past, and the grief journey does not lead to a renewal of life. In another situation, comments from family and friends may cause mourners to feel guilty about taking so long to get over the loss of their loved ones. In yet another situation, mourners may notice that other mourners appear to be making great progress while they see little, if any. Both of these can cause mourners to feel that there is something wrong with them.

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Connecting with our Qualities and Gifts

01-13-2019The World in View from a Believer’s PerspectiveFr. Larry Merta

Here's another image taken from a summer gone by. The bridge connecting Granville Island to the Vancouver mainland offers a splendid view of the yacht club harbor. What makes all the glass and metal in this picture sparkle is precisely the hues of the sunset. We are fascinated with the beauty of our own works but we need the sun to make them shine. Here's the deeper reflection: we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that our qualities and gifts never run independently of the Heavenly Father's goodness to each of us.

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Christ in the Desert Benedictine Monastery

01-06-2019The World in View from a Believer’s PerspectiveFr. Larry Merta

Here's another photo from Abiquiu at the Christ in the Desert Benedictine Monastery. This is as time lapse photo using over 130 photos woven together using a free software program called StarStax. I braved the cold for about 90 minutes of automated shutter release. I too had to play the part of the Magi as I looked for the North Star. The tunnel effect is only possible if you point the camera towards Polaris. All other stars in the Northern Hemisphere appear to orbit it.

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Beginning a New Year of Caregiving

01-06-2019On the Caregiving Journey…

As the new year begins, you are now beginning a new year of caregiving. Reflect upon the past year and ask yourself how you did on your caregiving journey.

  1. If you felt overwhelmed in 2018, did you ask anyone else to help you with your caregiving duties?
  2. Did you take some breaks from your caregiving duties even if just for an hour or two each week?
  3. Did you seek and receive support from others on the caregiving journey through in-person support groups or online virtual support groups?
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