Amidst all the wars and floods and earthquakes and persecutions right around the world, causing so many to be murdered, displaced, and amidst all the weirdness of the complications of world-politics and church-politics, that weirdness being an occasion by which people can lose their souls, I’ve nevertheless allowed myself to be distracted, self-absorbed, as Pope Francis says, in my own tiny little world.
I’ve been doing some preps for a medical intervention at the University of Tennessee Medical Center, a teaching hospital, recommended precisely because it is a teaching hospital by my own doctor and a specialist surgeon, both outside of that health care system. There are complications. Two hospitals were fighting for me to be their patient. I’m grateful.
It’s a super-easy, super-common, merely outpatient intervention. A generous parishioner is driving me there and back. But medicine is a practice, right? If there is a rather catastrophic complication, some logistics will have to be confronted. Since as a priest I’m quite continuously in hospitals, I’ve personally seen that complication. Alas, it’s best to be prepared.
It’s one of those situations whereby… “You have to confront the trees when going through a forest.” This is our lot in life, attempting to be a steward for the entire forest, but, in trying to have oversight of the panorama, we can walk right into individual trees. Bonk. Thus, the distraction.
The upside of any such would-be complication in my little world is that it might well save me from another possible intervention, which I’ve been warned by specialists would necessarily be catastrophic. So, one regrettable complication saving me from another. That would be really cool. I love that. I’m patient. But chances are there will not necessarily be another complication.
Anyway, that’s why I’ve not been posting much. Busy with preps. Chances are chances. Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst. Lots of people don’t have that opportunity. I’m grateful to be able to get psyched, as they say. Still doing the usual sprinting from Holy Hours to Confessions to Holy Mass to Communion calls, to Last Rites… and feeding Shadow-dog… all those things that I have hopes of continuing to do regardless of any complications one way or the other. It’s complicated, but obstacles are not insurmountable. For the record: “Not insurmountable.” Sometimes it has to be said.
P.S. That picture up top of John Paul II, who, like that young man, would then himself be transferred into a wheelchair…
- I put that poignant photo there because my memory is jogged regarding what a certain papabile said to me about that sainted pontiff, that he, JPII, is an embarrassment to the Church in front of the world. What a shame, he insisted, a pope in a wheelchair. He added: We’re trying to figure out a way to have him removed. Get that? But I’m sure it wasn’t because of physical infirmity that there was a desire to discard JPII like trash. JPII’s crime was that he was Catholic while being pope. This same papabile said that Jesus was a “kind of failure”, you know, a loser, for having been crucified.
- I recall a priest saying of me already decades ago now that I myself was an embarrassment to the Church in front of the world, you know, because at the time I was in a wheelchair. I was just as much of an embarrassment to the Church in front of the world as was another priest in a wheelchair in his diocese. He was an out-and-out Marxist, so, for him, rusty cogs in the machine are to be discarded like trash. I’m sure it wasn’t because of my physical infirmity at the time that there was a desire to get rid of me. My crime was that I was being Catholic while being a priest. It would only be a year or two and I would wheel myself in my wheelchair a couple of miles away to the Missionaries of Charity, giving them the wheelchair, making brave to walk away on crutches, and then, later, walk miles on those crutches to Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, and place my crutches, as a kind of statement of thanksgiving, behind the altar-rails at the side-altar of St Pius X, making brave to walk away, and I did.
- Years later, I recall a seminarian asking about a limp of mine which at some times is more pronounced. I told him what had happened. While spinning about and walking away quickly, dismissively, he called out, “What a loser!” you know, with an attitude, as in, “What a f***ing loser!” — Like… wait… what? If I’m a loser for having a limp, is Jesus a loser for having been crucified?
Anyway, the present intervention for which I’m distracted with many preps has nothing to do with any lifetime quasimodo ambulation. Chances are there will be no complication, which might be complicating, a veritable forest of trees:
Meanwhile, that’s just my own little world. Boring.
It’s Jesus who is the One. The only One.
I get that. I can’t even count how many times JPII traced the cross on my forehead.
The cross. That’s about Jesus. Jesus is our Life.