A Catholic Priest has Extraordinary Powers–He Has Been Given the Power of Christ Himself

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

Recently I wrote about how being a Catholic caregiver gives that person an “edge”. I had no idea that  only a day later I would be standing next to an unconscious body that was being kept alive through the use of mechanical means and medications. Somewhere inside that body was my wife, Marty. She was on “life-support”and my work as a caregiver was either on hold or would soon be ended.

Since early in 2011 Marty has had serious medical issues such as lymphoma and Alzheiemr’s Disease. But entering the year 2017 things began spiraling downward. The Alzheimer’s was markedly advanced and was even affecting her walking. Several times, she even forgot who I was. One day a week or so ago, I wanted to give her her afternoon meds. She refused to take them. She said she could not let a stranger give her poison. I was accustomed to her unpredictability but this was a first. I was stunned..

As weird as this may seem, I actually had a close friend, Geri, come over to “identify” me to Marty. My wife was unflappable and refused to give in. After about a half-hour of cajoling by Geri she finally, yet haltingly, relented. She gave in and took her pills.

Last Thursday, Marty spent most of the day sleeping. She ate nothing. I attributed it to new meds she had been prescribed. Friday the sleeping intensified and again she did not eat. Saturday was worse and late in the afternoon, when I checked here vitals, her oxygen level was at 82. I knew that was not good. I called 911.

Anointing of the Sick (Extreme Unction) en.wikipedia.com

The paramedics oxygenated her and took her to the ER. She was freezing cold and they discovered her core temperature was down to 93 degrees. Sepsis was suspected and later on validated. I had gone home because it was to be several more hours before a room opened up. I called in at 4 a.m. I was told that she was in CVICU and on “life-support”. She had become “unresponsive” and needed to be intubated.  I was shocked to hear this.

To the point of this article. Through my jumbled thoughts one thought was crystal clear. Call the priest. I immediately did. I had instinctively reached out and taken advantage of my Catholic “edge”. I am telling you, it felt good to make that phone call. I knew help was on the way—help for the spiritual side of my wife.

Fifteen minutes later I was at the hospital in the ICU unit,  standing next to my wife who was in her “life-support” bed. All the machines, tubes and hoses made the scene appear to be part of a science fiction movie.  The beeping and ticking was almost like the background for reggae music. All of this was supposed to help her get well. She was sedated and had no clue as to what was going on.

Shortly after,  Father Anthony Coppola, my pastor from Sacred Heart Church, came hurrying into the room. I always have had the utmost respect for the priesthood and the men who wear that collar. But I was about to appreciate the Catholic priesthood and the power that is in it in an entirely different way. I was also about to realize that  the purpose of God’s plan for the three of us to be in in that room, together, at that moment, was about to come together.

What happened next is part of the mystery of Faith. It is that great intangible that cannot be seen or touched. If a person has been gifted with faith and has embraced this gift they understand. If not, they have chosen not to. As St. Thomas Aquinas said so long ago, ““To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”

Father and I chatted briefly and then he went to work. He was about to administer the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick (formerly known as Extreme Unction). A Catholic priest is the only person who can offer the Holy Mass and administer the Sacraments of Penance, Confirmation (usually the bishop does this) and Anointing of the Sick. He has been given this power because he has received the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

He opened his prayer book and began to read. Then he took holy oil from a little gold receptacle, dipped his thumb in it, and anointed Marty’s forehead and hands with it. He prayed some more and then it happened. He said these words, “By the authority which the Apostolic See has given me, I grant you full pardon and the remission of all your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” 

Marty had just been given what is known as the Apostolic Pardon. This was that moment in time where I understood everything that was going on. She was there, still alive, because God wanted her to be fully prepared for her impending journey, a journey that would now be straight and direct to Jesus Himself. I was there because without me, the priest would not have been available to impart his  power.

But this moment belonged to Father Anthony, a Catholic priest who had the power and authority to impart this pardon. Make no mistake, these are the moments when the radiance of the Catholic priesthood shines through because these are the moments a priest stands in the shoes of Christ . It was a beautiful and humbling thing to see.

                                  ©Copyright Larry Peterson 2017


Alzheimer's Disease–The Growing, Unstoppable Epidemic

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

My wife, Marty, began undergoing chemo treatments for Lymphoma during the spring of 2011. In the summer of 2013 cognitive disruption began to rear its ugly head. When I asked her oncologist could it be  “chemo brain”,  he more or less gave me an I’m not sure, maybe shrug followed by a “I don’t think so.”,  answer.

During the late summer of 2014 the “cognitive disruption” I had noticed  was officially diagnosed as Alzheimer’s Disease.  So much for my “chemo brain” theory. The mental “fog”  was never going to go away.  On the contrary, I quickly found out that her newly discovered illness would hang on to her and not leave until it succeeded in taking her life. Alzheimer’s Disease is the only cause of death that cannot be prevented, cured, or even slowed down.

Marty did not understand what was happening to her and I was having no luck trying to explain it. All she knew was that the rehab center she was in was not her home and that I had put her there and did not stay with her anymore. She had no idea where I (we) lived and was as frightened as a child whose parents at dropped her off at a strange place and left her there with strangers.  The whole situation actually sickened me. When I would leave after four or five hours of visiting the pathetically sad and forlorn look that appeared on her face was almost too much to bear.

It is now almost eight months since the official diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. She has been home since the end of last October. I have told her that she has Alzheimer’s Disease and she tells me that she understands. She does not understand but, since she forgets the conversation within minutes, it does not matter anyway.

Marty has become my new seven year-old existing in an old body. No one can tell she is ill, except me, of course, and several close friends that know about her condition.  When I take her with me to church and to the stores etc., I always hear how “wonderful” she looks. Yeah, well the Titanic looked all bright and shiny as it headed out into the Atlantic that cold, April day in 1912. (Oops, sorry, I try to avoid being “down” about this but sometimes it just bites me, especially when I write about it.) Moving forward—here is a link to Alzheimer’s Disease .

Today, more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease and about 200,000 of those folks are under the age of 65. The disease kills more people every year than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. It is estimated that by the year 2050, 16 million people will have this disease. Someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s every 67 seconds. They have estimated that by 2050 it will be every 33 seconds. This is an epidemic growing before our eyes. It is also becoming a nightmare for more and more moms, dads, sons, daughters, grandchildren, cousins, aunts, uncles, friends and society as a whole.

Imagine  that all around the country people like Marty Peterson, are having their brains slowly erased by an invisible demon inside their heads. Swoosh, swoosh, swoosh; back and forth, back and forth, the tiny eraser keeps moving–back and forth, back and forth. Slowly but methodically the demon goes about its work 24/7. After awhile the person under attack does not even remember how to go to the bathroom. And then, after a time,  the eraser stops. It stops when  the disease it is part of finally erases the person’s life.

That is the course of the relentless, unstoppable, illness known as Alzheimer’s Disease. It is at work at this very moment. Somehow, someway we will have to stop it. We will need God’s help because this war cannot be won without Him.

For more information click on this link  Alzheimer’s Info

                                       copyright©Larry Peterson 2015


A Piano Concert Given on the Road to Nothingness

Through the fog of Alzheimer’s–The Piano Smile                            L.Peterson2016

 


by Larry Peterson

Until about four years ago, Marty, was never sick a day in her life. That is when the Lymphoma was discovered and the chemo began. The cancer would come and go and so would the PeT Scans and continued chemo treatments. Truthfully, it was never much more than an inconvenience. She never got sick, lost weight or had any of those stereotypical cancer fears materialize.
What did unexpectedly occur were the ever more frequent cognitive disruptions.  Memory lapses, asking the same question over and over and things like that. I spoke to her oncologist and he silently said with raised eyebrows, tightened lips and a shrug, ‘there might be a problem’.
Anesthesia administered during surgery for a severely broken ankle on August 1, dragged her deeper into the netherworld which, up until then, had only been toying with her.  Now it grabbed her and yanked her in. On September 24 a heart attack (A-Fib) resolved any uncertainty. Her “Fog” or CRCD (Cancer Related Cognitive Dysfunction) was diagnosed as Alzheimer’s Disease. Quicksand could not have been more efficient.  Onward and downward.
The hospital and rehab stay after the ankle surgery had lasted 20 days and the days spent in the hospital and rehab after the A-Fib attack lasted 33 days. She thought I had moved her into a new apartment and was wondering why I would not stay there at night.
Like a good “soldier” she would wait patiently, hour after hour after hour, until I returned the next day. Then, like a three-year-old who had been found by her daddy, her face would light up and she would say, “Oh thank God, you found me.” She knew she was “saved” and would hug me tight and not let go.
I freely admit that every damn day on the way home I cried thinking of how sad this was. My intelligent, independent, wife had become a lost child, the victim of an insidious demon inside her head who was erasing her brain. I had turned into a blubbering idiot. This Alzheimer’s thing was surely a despicable foe.
Marty returned home on October 26 with a bag full of new medications and a mind that was telling her that I had moved her into a ‘new’ house. She asked me if we “were married’, if we would sleep together in the same bed and if, in fact, her piano was new. After two weeks she had recovered some of (not all) her sense of belonging in “her home”.
She was still not sure where things should go and kept moving items from here to there without me knowing. I have (so far) had to search hi and low for the shampoo, the toothpaste, parmigiana cheese,  combs, and hairbrush etc.
So be it—together we plod forward with her doing whatever she will do and me learning to (at all times) expect the unexpected. This is a minute to minute journey, unplanned, without a destination and very spontaneous.  But—there can be beautiful moments and yesterday one unexpectedly came along.
Marty has played piano since she was a child and is quite an accomplished pianist. A concern of mine, while she was in rehab, was that she might not remember how to play. I have been told she will actually forget how to. Yesterday, those concerns were put on hold.
I was in my cluttered, paper-strewn office staring at the computer monitor when piano music began filling the house. I smiled to myself as I began to listen and then I realized this was something different. This was not the usual Marty, this was a transcendent  Marty.
I could not believe what I was hearing. She was playing the most beautiful music I had ever heard her play. “Stella by Starlight” filled the rooms followed by “Autumn Leaves” and then, my favorite, Chopin’s Major in E flat. I watched from the hallway and saw that she was lost within the music that she was bringing forth on that old piano.
Watching her play was like observing one of God’s magnificent flowers fully bloom. Realizing that these were now fleeting moments soon to be no more I had the good sense to record the entire hour that she played.  I figured that when she does forget how to play and does not recognize the piano or maybe even me, that music will still be here. That is when I will play it for her.  Maybe, just maybe, from whatever world she is in, she will take
pause and smile. Maybe she will remember some of her music. Maybe, just maybe…
   ©Larry Peterson 2016