November: A month to remember. A month to remember the departed. A month when the leaves turn brown, fall, and in some cases, get covered with several feet of snow!
Here in Buffalo New York, we have experienced some awesome demonstrations of nature, and some wonderful moments of grace. From my friend Denise Perry, a nurse stranded on her way to work, delivering a baby in a fire hall to the thousands of neighbors shoveling roofs and driveways for each other.
My own journey this month, at the close of the Liturgical year has been full of death and new life; Alpha and Omega moments. Since my husband and I moved out to our farm in 1988, we have kept horses for breeding and physical therapy purposes. One of my favorites, and the first riding tutor to most of our children was named “Believing Thomas,” as he was born a twin, during the Easter season, when the readings for the doubting Thomas were read at Mass. Thomas’s twin was a beautiful filly who was still born. Right from the start, Thomas struggled for life, and thrived. He had bony prominences on his knees that later in life became painfully arthritic. In the end, this was why I chose to have him laid to rest two weeks ago, at the age of 20.
I lament this moment, not because I regret having made that decision for him, but because our world is a bit confused, and following the teachings of Holy Mother Church have helped me discern. As beloved as Thomas was… he was… a horse. He did not have an eternal soul, and was not made in the image and likeness of God. He was an awesome companion, and gave great joy to myself, my children, and many others. The beauty of God’s creation and love, was embodied in his massive form and chestnut coat. But in the end, I used God’s mandate of dominion over his creation… to not only care for all his needs during his 20 years on earth, but also care for his euthanasia.
Man IS made in the image and likeness of God, and end of life decisions have to be made with the guide of a very accurate moral compass. I have just finished narrating the book by Mary Fabian Windeatt: The Little Flower, in audiobook format. Spending this much time with St. Therese of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face, and her Little Way, has been extremely humbling. Her desire to become little, and throw herself into Our Heavenly Father’s arms is simple, but very difficult indeed. It requires complete surrender of will. God, in turn, gives to the abandoned soul, many graces, including clear discernment. How Therese handled her death to tuberculosis was magnificent. She knew how her suffering was saving souls.
Next week, we, as a church, begin the anticipation of the Incarnation; Advent. Our apocalyptic readings this week will give way to the prophesies of the Messiah. I hold on to the last of this season, with hope, and great confidence in our Church,as the moral guide. We uplift saints like Therese and John Paul II, who embraced their sufferings, making them powerful in the hands of God.
May you all have a blessed Advent as we approach the season of JOY!