I don’t know about you, but I often worry about what I might end up doing when I finally go senile and forget that people are watching me. Okay, maybe this is only a problem I have–but I spend so much of my time making sure that no-one sees the real me under my layers of hypocrisy that I fear that when all my defences are finally torn away by old age they will see my true self and know me for what I am.
All those fears aside, wouldn’t it be great if when we finally enter the realm of dementia, what emerges is the saint we have (by God’s grace) become in our lives through constant discipleship?
Here’s a story that warmed my heart. You will remember I mentioned just before I went to Turkey that my Grandmother passed away. She had been a nurse for much of her life and had nursed my own grandfather when he was suffering from alzheimers.
I was unable to attend her funeral due to my Turkey trip, so my mother sent me her obituary and the hymn sheet of her funeral (she had “And can it be”–I want that one for my funeral too!). The obituary had the following comment–something I didn’t know about her:
As Grandma cared for Grandpa her great strength of character shone through. Following his death she started to volunteer at The Vines nursing home. When it was her turn to receive care she did so graciously, always with gentle gratitude and always uncomplaining. Her inherent nurturing instincts continued to kick in and to the amazement and amusement of staff they’d often find her feeding other residents after she’d finished her own meal.
Ah, if only when everything is finally stripped away from me, they might find a saint half so worthy.
Reflecting further on my little tirade against Fr John Dear below, I realise the difficulty we get ourselves in when we embrace ideology rather than theology. Dear advocates the total renunciation of the use of force (“violence”, in his parlance)–not just as a personal virtue, but as a policy for states. “Non-violence” is, in fact, his ideology, for which he seeks theological support. In fact, he will bend his theology in the service of his ideology if need be. In this, he is little different from those 1970’s proponents of Liberation theology who claimed “The only truth is the truth that is efficacious for liberation” (Juan Luis Segundo) or “The Bible! It doesn’t exist. The only Bible is the sociological Bible of what I see happening here and now” (Hugo Assmann). (Source: John Allen).
But, as always, Pope Benedict shows us “a more excellent way”. In his homily at the opening of the CELAM conference in Brazil on Sunday, the Holy Father said:
Not a political ideology, not a social movement, not an economic system: faith in the God who is Love—who took flesh, died and rose in Jesus Christ—is the authentic basis for this hope which has brought forth such a magnificent harvest from the time of the first evangelization until today.
Yes, dear Friends, here is your third opportunity to experience the treasure which is our Catholic Liturgy as the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council meant her to be celebrated: In Latin!
The next mass of the Glorificamus Society will be held on the Feast of Penteocst (Sunday, 27 May 2007) at 6pm at St Brigid’s Catholic Church, Fitzroy North, Victoria.
It is to be emphasised that this Solemn Mass is Mass in the Modern Roman Rite (Novus Ordo), but it will be celebrated “ad orientem”, in Latin and with Gregorian Chant.