Spiritual Sacrifice

03-31-2019The World in View from a Believer’s PerspectiveFr. Larry Merta

Just West of Loop 101 in Avondale Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery hosts a large Mosaic of Christ displaying his absolute power over death. We are well into our Lenten observance and I hope and pray that you are giving your very best to offer our Lord a pleasing sacrifice. He will use it if you really give it to Him. I imagine the Church has taught many of you, if not most of you, from your youth that Jesus is pleased and so is His Blessed Mother to take our sacrifices and apply them to those who can't be saved otherwise. Let's revisit that teaching in Number 2100 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

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Staying Faithful

03-24-2019The World in View from a Believer’s PerspectiveFr. Larry Merta

Here's an image from Spook Hill off of Brown Road and North Loop 202. Brown Road leads to the foot of the Superstitions. What other year do you remember there being that much snow on top? Please tell me. I've only lived through a few Arizonan winters myself.

At any rate, it would seem that the snow came right to our back door. Everything beyond those ranges and to the north has seen a record-breaking winter. Those of us who chose to winter here chose wisely. With no snow shovels in our garage we are still betting that we will see it only from afar and not up close. But we were affected, mostly with the temperature dips. More layers went on and some of us went out to buy winter clothes out of necessity. We told ourselves, 'it doesn't get that bad down here.' And so, some of us found that we weren't prepared for a winter like this one.

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Mourning is Normal

03-24-2019Journeying through Grief

Very frequently those mourning the loss of a close loved one will wonder if it is normal to feel like they are going “crazy”. The quick and simple answer is “yes, it is normal.” Mourners sometimes experience a disconnection when their loved ones die. Often it is difficult to accept the new reality that the loved one is no longer alive and a part of the mourner’s physical world. Mourners may expect to see their loved ones when they go into another room in the house. Or, they may expect to wake up and see their loved ones close by as they were before they died. Even when the telephone rings, mourners may expect to hear their loved ones’ voices when answering calls. Occasionally, mourners will experience something and then have the urge to share the experience with their loved ones, only to realize that they are not physically with them anymore. Mourners may also feel that the pain of separation will never go away. As time passes and the new reality sinks it, mourners gradually adjust to the “new normal”. Eventually, they lose the sense that they are going crazy and that their world is completely turned upside down.

Defense

03-17-2019The World in View from a Believer’s PerspectiveFr. Larry Merta

After I read the February 4th declaration on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together signed by Pope Francis and Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayeb, if you follow Catholic news, especially where this document has sparked a debate about the singular salvific role that the Holy Catholic Church plays as God's instrument of salvation for all mankind, I was interested in forming my opinion about it, especially where the parties who drafted the document stated, "Al-Azhar and the Catholic Church ask that this Document become the object of research and reflection in all schools, universities and institutes of formation". So here are my two cents.

As some of you know very well, the document stirred up controversy in the Catholic blogosphere at the following passage:

The pluralism and the diversity of religions, colour, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom, through which He created human beings.

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Caring for Someone with Alzheimer's

03-17-2019On the Caregiving Journey…

One of the most stressful journeys is taking care of someone with dementia or Alzheimer's. According to the Alzheimer's Association, more than 5 million Americans have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Ninety-five percent of are over the age of 65. One in every ten seniors has Alzheimer's. Every 66 seconds in this country, another person is diagnosed with the disease. Alzheimer's is the sixth leading cause of death in this country. How do you know if your loved one may be suffering from dementia or Alzheimer's or just showing normal effects of aging? The National Institute on Aging lists the following conditions as possible indicators of having Alzheimer's:

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Slow Down...Calm Down

03-10-2019Journeying through Grief

It is not unusual for mourners to wonder how long their grief will last. Some mourners may question whether they have grieved long enough; other mourners may be concerned that they have grieved too long. How long should a grief journey last? There is no simple answer to this question and there is no magic number in terms of weeks, months, or years. Each grief journey is unique and different. Two family members mourning the loss of the same loved one will experience different journeys of different lengths. One may be ready to move on after just a few weeks while the other person may need more time. Even a person experiencing several losses will gradually discover that the grief journey for each loss is unique and cannot be compared with other grief journeys. Because there is no “one size fits all”, mourners should not place unrealistic expectations upon themselves to complete their journeys according to a time schedule. Instead, they can be comforted knowing that the journey will eventually come to an end.

Patron Saint

03-10-2019The World in View from a Believer’s PerspectiveFr. Larry Merta

I figured that with this cold and drizzly weather on President's Day, the turnout at the Renaissance Festival would not compare to other years. I was right. With less people around I was able to get in some tight shots. The afternoon Falconer's Show gave me the opportunity to shoot the Eurasian Eagle Owl, the largest owl on planet earth. I let out a 'who?!' so that Mr. Owl would pose for me. And that's exactly what this bird of prey did.

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Caregiving Resources

03-03-2019On the Caregiving Journey…

Are you currently providing some type of care for a loved one? If so, how many of these questions have entered your mind?

  1. How do I do my job as a caregiver?
  2. What resources are available to help me provide effective care for my loved one?
  3. Where can I go to learn more about various caregiving resources in my community?
  4. Who will understand what I am going through as a family caregiver?
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EWTN

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

I imagine that many families watch EWTN at some point during the week. This is another picture of the reporters’ booths at the Vigil for Eucharistic Adoration where the Holy Father presided. Notice on the second floor the faces of EWTN show hosts appear quite distinctly. You may recognize some of them. Against the silhouette of the other media, only EWTN show hosts were lit. The printed bulletin you hold in your hands doesn’t do justice to this image. I wish I could show you a professional print at 300%. The more I examined this image in post the more I thought, ‘EWTN is certainly God’s instrument of bringing much light into the world’. And the light is written on their faces—at least in this photo.

Your Pastor,
Fr. Larry

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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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