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'Dear Friends' March 2009

Week of March 2, 2009
  

Purple Days

Dear Friends:

        It's always a little startling when the priest enters the church to celebrate Mass in these early days of Lent and he's wearing purple vestments. Yes, you know that color can be symbolic of penance and Lent is a time of praying, fasting and sacrificing but still . . . Those green vestments used in Ordinary Time -- another liturgical season -- suddenly have more appeal.
       Maybe you couldn't make it to Mass on Ash Wednesday because of your caregiving duties. Maybe your schedule was free that morning or evening but you were just too tired from all the others appointments and obligations helping a loved one can entail.
       Yes, you wish you had received the ashes. Yes, you wish you could make it to daily Mass at least a few times during the weeks of Lent. Yes, you used to do better at choosing a Lenten sacrifice and sticking to it but now . . .
       Now an excerpt from the first reading from last Friday's Mass is especially appropriate for you (emphasis added):

This, rather, is the fasting that I wish:
releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed,
breaking every yoke;
Sharing your bread with the hungry,
sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;
Clothing the naked when you see them,
and not turning your back on your own.
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your wound shall quickly be healed;
Your vindication shall go before you,
and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer,
you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!
                                        --Isaiah 58:6-9

       You are making sacrifices, and not just during Lent. You're doing what God asks all of us to do and what he asks you, specifically, to do to help your loved one. (Who, of course, is also his loved one!)
       This may not be the Lent to give up coffee, to get to weekday Mass, to spend a half hour in the evening reading scripture. God willing, there will be other Lents for you. Right now, you're doing what God has asked you to do . . . right now.
        And, we feel safe to say, he is well pleased. He is with you.

- - -

       If you'd like to see what the readings are for Mass each day, you can go the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' site:
USCCB - (NAB) - March 2, 2009. (The left column has a calendar to get to a specific date.)
       And, as we mentioned last week, Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., offers an on-line Lenten retreat.

- - -

       We were so pleased that so many people chose the beginning of Lent 2009 to become members of the Friends of St. John the Caregiver, including our first member from Africa. (That makes it nine countries on five continents.) Please join us in welcoming Barnes O. from Nigeria, Laura O. from Idaho, Marvine O. from Nebraska, (Oh, what a week!), Jennie M. from Tennessee and Laura T. from Ohio.
       Please keep them and their intentions in your prayers. They have promised to pray for caregivers and those receiving care.
       If you've been considering become a member, we encourage you to become a member this week. It's very easy. (No meetings, no dues!) All we ask is that you pray for caregivers and those receiving care. Our members include caregivers, care-receivers, and those who support both (including quite a few former caregivers).
       You can:

        sign up on-line here
       
        or call us toll-free at 1-800-392-JOHN (5646)
      
        or print and mail an application form.

       God bless you!

                                                          Monica and Bill

To contact us
To join FSJC
To make a donation
To view or make prayer requests
Materials order form
Past "Dear Friends" notes
"Among Friends" quarterly newsletter
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week of March 9, 2009
  

One Hour

Dear Friends:

        We weren't surprised that the congregation was a little sparse at the 9 o'clock Mass yesterday morning at our parish. Changing the clocks the night before -- "springing ahead" one hour -- meant it felt like 8 and, no doubt, some folks decided to go to the 11 o'clock Mass instead. Which felt like 10.
       It's always a little unsettling going into or leaving daylight savings time, even though it's only an hour's difference. An hour doesn't sound like much but . . .
       As you know, we frequently refer to "St. John the Caregiver" and Jesus, from the cross asking that apostle to take care of the Blessed Mother (John 19:26-27). It was on the previous day, Holy Thursday, that Jesus spoke to John, his brother James, and Peter about "one hour." The Agony in the Garden (Mark 14:32-42) tells of Our Lord asking the three of them to watch -- and pray -- for one hour with him but none of the trio was able to stay awake.
       Sometimes an hour is a long time. Sometimes it's hard to do something for an hour. Sometimes there are other things we would prefer doing (watch TV, read a book) or things our body seems to demand we do (sleep!). In many ways, that describes what caregiving is like for many caregivers.
      It isn't 24-hour care. It isn't long stretches of time, day after day. It's an hour here (getting a loved one to a doctor's appointment) or an hour there (waiting at the pharmacy). It's being on hold with the insurance company or changing sheets and doing the laundry or . . . . Or any number of items that -- one by one -- "are only . . . ."
      Over a week, over a month, over the years, those hours add up. We're here to tell you that you're not alone if you say to others, or to yourself, "I'm not really a caregiver. I'm only . . . ."
       You are a caregiver. And those hours -- as scattered as they may be -- aren't going unnoticed. Your heavenly Fathers sees each of them. And your brother Jesus, the one who said "whatever you do to the least, you do to me," is aware of them, too.
       Time after time, God has asked you to help one of his beloved sons or daughters -- for just "one hour" -- and that's  exactly what you've done.
        It's what you're continuing to do.

 - - -

       As we've been mentioning in recent letters, if you'd like to see what the readings are for Mass each day, you can go the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' site:
USCCB - (NAB) - March 2, 2009. (The left column has a calendar to get to a specific date.)
       And Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., offers an on-line Lenten retreat.

- - -

       Again this week we invite you to join the Friends of St. John the Caregiver. (Now with members in nine countries on five continents!) You can find out more about becoming a member here.
       No meetings, no dues. All we ask is that you pray for caregivers and those receiving care. Our members include caregivers, care-receivers, and those who support both (including quite a few former caregivers).
       You can:
       If you've been considering become a member, we encourage you to become a member this week. It's very easy. (No meetings, no dues!) All we ask is that you pray for caregivers and those receiving care. Our members include caregivers, care-receivers, and those who support both (including quite a few former caregivers).
       You can:

        sign up on-line here
       
        or call us toll-free at 1-800-392-JOHN (5646)
      
        or print and mail an application form.

       God bless you!

                                                          Monica and Bill

To contact us
To join FSJC
To make a donation
To view or make prayer requests
Materials order form
Past "Dear Friends" notes
"Among Friends" quarterly newsletter
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week of March 16, 2009
  

Family Caregiving is Unique But Universal

Dear Friends:

        The lobby of a local senior center was packed last Friday as guests lined up for its annual St. Patrick's Day luncheon. In the next room, staff members were busy hanging shamrock decorations and green crepe-paper streamers. "You don't have to be Irish to celebrate St. Patrick's Day," one fellow commented and then quickly added, "but I am."
       In many places, March 17 or the weekend closest to it has become a time to celebrate St. Patrick's Day no matter what your nationality, heritage, culture, religion or ethnicity may be.
       That singular feast day continues to also become a worldwide holiday and while the celebrations have common characteristics some areas may have particular traditions.
        In a similar way, the same holds true for family caregiving.
        It's unique: my spouse, my aging parent, my child with special needs. (Or, within a family, our loved one.)
        But it's also universal: families around the world are taking care of someone. And while there are common characteristics, there are also particular traditions: In some circles, it's customary to use assisted living facilities and nursing homes. In others, it's more typical for a care-receiver to remain in a family member's home.
        No matter the circumstances, no matter the customs, no matter the cultural expectations or traditions . . . caregiving is challenging. At times, it's hard to have a care-receiver in your home even though "this is how we do it." At times, it's hard to have a care-receiver in a nursing home or other facility even though "this is what's best" for him or her, "this is the way it has to be."
       Our prayer for you, as the Church begins the Third Sunday of Lent, is that -- no matter what your situation may be -- you'll become more aware of the presence of God in your life and know that you aren't alone.

 - - -

       As we've been mentioning in recent letters, if you'd like to see what the readings are for Mass each day, you can go the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' site:
USCCB - (NAB) - March 2, 2009. (The left column has a calendar to get to a specific date.)
       And Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., offers an on-line Lenten retreat.

- - -

       This week we want to welcome two new members to the Friends of St. John the Caregiver. "Hello" to Kay A. in Illinois and Rita S. in Washington. Please keep them and their intentions in your prayers. They've promised to pray for caregivers and those receiving care.
       If you've been considering become a member, we encourage you to join this week. It's very easy. (No meetings, no dues!) All we ask is that you pray for caregivers and those receiving care. Our members include caregivers, care-receivers, and those who support both (including quite a few former caregivers).
       You can:

        sign up on-line here
       
        or call us toll-free at 1-800-392-JOHN (5646)
      
        or print and mail an application form.

       God bless you!

                                                          Monica and Bill

To contact us
To join FSJC
To make a donation
To view or make prayer requests
Materials order form
Past "Dear Friends" notes
"Among Friends" quarterly newsletter
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week of March 23, 2009
  

The Blessing -- and Aggravation! -- of Technology

Dear Friends:

        We're old enough to have learned to type on a typewriter. A manual. To remember our first transistor radio. To recall the big move from a black-and-white TV to color. To have marveled at a handheld calculator and a digital clock. To continue to be amazed at the march -- at the tidal wave -- of technology.
       (No, we didn't listen to radio programs as kids. Figured out our age? We were born in the final full year of the Truman administration. The year Ike was elected the first time.)
       Since you're reading this letter on a computer with Internet access, we know you have some tech savvy. And, as a caregiver, you've probably also noticed how the world of medicine -- from a doctor's office to a hospital room -- seems to have more high-tech gizmos and doodads than . . . well, than Buck Rogers' spaceship.
       Technology has been on our mind this week because an upcoming switch in cable TV delivery has meant a new receiver box and a new remote control at our house. Because we need different software to keep producing our Web sites (what we're using is "obsolete" and won't be used by our Web host for much longer) and that means learning new software. Because an upgrade in office software was a bit of a disaster. (Grrr.) Because our office phone line is making woo-woo sounds and not in a happy way. Because, our office computers informed us, late yesterday, we didn't have access to the Internet and we weren't sure we were going to be able to post an updated letter this week.
         But, step by step, we're getting by. Becoming accustomed to the remote. Learning the software. Sorting through the upgrade. Calling the phone company -- on another line-- to get the primary line checked and fixed. And, following the computer's diagnosis, getting the connection between the Internet, our modem and our router back in working condition.
       We mention -- all -- this not because we're looking for sympathy but because, we're sure, there are some days when you feel that way. When the "new and improved" just seem like more work or, worse, they don't work correctly.
       We all yearn for "simpler times" and, with selective memory or a poor understanding of human history, we assume times past were simpler.
       Yes, in some ways. No, in many others.
       As one care-receiver -- so tired of the doctor visits, the stays in the hospital, the daily regimen of medicines -- asked, "People didn't used to do all this. What did people used to do?"
       The caregiver, knowing her loved one was both serious and joking answered in the same mixed tone: "Well," she said, "they died."
       Some things haven't changed in the last 10 years. In the last 100. Or 1,000. Or more.
       Caregiving is hard. Challenging. Personal. It's love made visible and that can never be replaced by technology.
       Thank you for what you're doing. You remain in our prayers.

 - - -

       This week we want to welcome two new members to the Friends of St. John the Caregiver. "Hello" to Allen M. in Indiana and Jane R. in Wisconsin. Please keep them and their intentions in your prayers. They've promised to pray for caregivers and those receiving care.
       If you've been considering becoming a member, we encourage you to join this week. It's very easy. (No meetings, no dues!) All we ask is that you pray for caregivers and those receiving care. Our members include caregivers, care-receivers, and those who support both (including quite a few former caregivers).
       You can:

        sign up on-line here
       
        or call us toll-free at 1-800-392-JOHN (5646)
      
        or print and mail an application form.

       God bless you!

                                                          Monica and Bill

To contact us
To join FSJC
To make a donation
To view or make prayer requests
Materials order form
Past "Dear Friends" notes
"Among Friends" quarterly newsletter
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week of March 30, 2009
  

Great Ideas . . . From You

Dear Friends:

        For us, one of the --many -- joys of being a part of the Friends of St. John the Caregiver is meeting and getting to know caregivers, care-receivers and people who support both. Sometimes that's in person. Most often it's over the Internet. But whether it's face-to-face, by mail, by e-mail or over the phone, these associations have been a great blessing to us.
       And they've helped FSJC -- and YourAgingParent.com and CatholicCaregivers.com -- provide better service.
       A recent example is an e-mail we received from a priest in Nebraska. He was giving some talks and wanted written material on caregiving to hand out to the audience members. Needless to say, we were happy to oblige. (It's because of FSJC's generous and faithful donors that we can supply all our material at no charge!)
       Father L. also asked if we had anything on the topic of adult children -- taking care of aging parents-- talking to their children about caregiving. Something for "the bottom layer" of the "sandwich generation."
       We didn't. But it was a great topic and so we've made it the subject of the April edition of Catholic Caregivers, the monthly flier available at CatholicCaregivers.com. (We've also posted the Bulletin Briefs and Prayers of Intercession for April.)
       Thanks, Father L.!
       If you have an idea, a suggestion, a comment or a question, please don't hesitate to contact us. We're all in this together!

- - -

        This week we want to welcome two new members to the Friends of St. John the Caregiver. "Hello" to Laurie B. in Pennsylvania and to Dolores R. and all the parishioners at All Saints Church in Dunwoody, Ga. All Saints has joined a parish member.
       Please keep them and their intentions in your prayers. They've promised to pray for caregivers and those receiving care.
       If you've been considering becoming a member (or having your parish become a member parish), we encourage you to join this week. It's very easy. (No meetings, no dues!) All we ask is that you pray for caregivers and those receiving care. Our members include caregivers, care-receivers, and those who support both (including quite a few former caregivers).
       You can:

        sign up on-line here
       
        or call us toll-free at 1-800-392-JOHN (5646)
      
        or print and mail an application form.

       God bless you!

                                                          Monica and Bill

To contact us
To join FSJC
To make a donation
To view or make prayer requests
Materials order form
Past "Dear Friends" notes
"Among Friends" quarterly newsletter
 

 

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