FTDO: A Message of Peace

theheaplogo.jpg picture by jmooser

The Heap presents a special edition of “From The Desk Of” since I really don’t have the chance to write from work anymore. It has gotten extremely busy these days, especially now that it is the end of the year! So I’ll tell the tale from the comfort of home!

I have stories upon stories to tell thanks to the vast array of interesting people my job allows me to help through the county’s patient assistance program. But this ONE story really touched me. I mean, it absolutely makes you appreciate the circumstances I was born into, how fate had it that I was born as an American during a relatively peaceful time, and how one of my patients was born into extreme poverty in what can be considered a third world country. He grew up during a time of political unrest and ultimately bloody revolution. He lives to tell of the atrocities he has experienced.

A lot of my older patients have a hard time understanding the general process of the program we run, and what exactly is needed. Now factor in that he can only speak and understand Spanish, and confusion reaches a whole new level. Both he and his wife are recent immigrants to the US mainland, so despite their age, they are not eligible for the mainstream government programs. Fortunately, they became citizens and are eligible for these other programs directly from the manufacturers of their medication.

Now let’s pause here and think about this. How bad must things be for someone to leave their country at an old age for a land where you don’t know the language and you have absolutely nothing. You are leaving poverty for poverty essentially, and I dare say that living in an impoverished state here in the US might even be worse than that of Cuba. Obviously, it’s not a question of quality of life. While poverty is not the ideal situation to find yourself in, the US has a rich history of community service and outreach programs. Americans are typically very generous.

The problem is that poverty and dependence on the government has such a negative stigma here (and in particular these days as fiscal policy is scrutinized seemingly every hour!). The situation MUST be dire to leave a place where EVERYONE is poor to a place where not only will you be poor, but you might even be looked down upon due to stereotypic generalization. (This is a rant for another day)

My patient takes a medication called Abilify. It helps with depression, but often causes “spaceyness” and forgetfulness. We’ve faced the same problem with the Abilify program for months. They require a state Medicaid denial letter in order to receive beyond the initial shipment of the medication. So of course, we have the task of calling to remind patients that this must be done in 90 days. Needless to say, there are a good number of patients who just don’t cooperate or don’t understand.

Our patient was one that didn’t understand. So he and his wife came to the office to see what could be done. His wife’s medications were simple enough, and we haven’t really had any problems with any of her applications. But for the patient, there were still some medications pending. To make a long story short, I offered to do the Medicaid application for him online.

So we went back to my office, and we just began to talk. My patient preaches a message of world peace. It’s on the top of his prayer list, as he told me. He grew up before and during the Cuba Revolution. He was deemed as a “government asset” and was assigned clerical tasks instead of being forced to be a laborer. Unfortunately, he lost favor with one of his commanding officers and he was forced to join the military, and was given the task of digging graves as well as digging up graves in search of precious metals. It was a period of extreme fear. He would come to work one day only to learn of the government executing a coworker.

He made it through, and somehow was allowed to immigrate into the US with his wife. He was able to bring his daughter and granddaughter over, and they are all able to get by together. They were lucky, and they know it.

This all happened maybe a month or so ago. What compelled me to write about this was that he called me today to with me a Merry Christmas! And again to stress the importance of peace among countries of the world. I was very touched by this.

How can we get to a state of peace here in this world where differences are grounds for war? Is it an attainable goal? It it plausible to even depend on God / religion as a cornerstone for developing peace among peoples? Especially with the issue of “God(s)” being the very issue that many go to war for?

Can society ever become “colorblind”? This is where John Lennon’s “Imagine” makes perfect sense. All possible categories of difference would theoretically have to be eliminated. Anyone have thoughts on this issue? Does religion have to be part of a solution, or would it further hinder the process? Why does the human race place figurative values on a human life according to category?

This Christmas, spread a message of Peace, Joy, and Love.

smallheap.jpg image by jmooser

From The Desk Of… “Religious Anachronisms”

Blasphemy? Possibly. Hilarious? Absolutely.

While I consider myself a dedicated believer, these pictures make me laugh to no end.

raptor

I can’t come up with words to describe this picture… It’s too funny- in particular the names of the suggested colors… (courtesy of Chris Moody)

dino-ark

I believe a 200 cubit gun is hidden somewhere in Genesis. (Courtesy of The BEattitude)

And lastly…

Be thankful you weren't Moses during a holiday season. Concubines are so hard to buy for.

Applicable from Abraham, the patriarch himself all the way until… well until the Bible said to stop having more than one wife! Hallmark would have made a killing on Solomon. (Courtesy of The BEattitude).

smallheap.jpg image by jmooser

A Pre-Lenten Reflection

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Lent is my favorite part of the Catholic calendar. The obvious association is that of giving something up for those 40 days or so. It’s a wonderful tradition and it’s certainly the least we can do as Christians when it comes to what Christ endured. Lent is much deeper than the simple sacrificial action or non-action. It’s about how the Lenten sacrifice enriches your spiritual life and how you use this period of renewal n order to grow closer to God.

The sacrifices of fasting and not eating meat are a traditional component. We Catholics know ALL about traditions. I couldn’t tell you why we don’t eat meat on Fridays or why it’s customary to abstain from something desirable. It’s just tradition, and a harmless one at that. It fits in well.

Most of the religious aspects of modern Catholicism are themselves ancestral relics of action- customs which have survived persecution, fundamental resistance, and time. It’s a tradition I am proud to partake in, despite the conspiracies behind why Catholics started eating meat on Fridays. What does it matter? Perhaps in the past the reasons were tainted with hints of corruption. As we’ve learned in CCD or Catholic School, this part of our religious history is a regrettable part of history.

I just choose to celebrate it as part of our tradition as well. I mean, why not help further the stereotype, right?

This act of sacrifice in the season of Lent goes hand in hand with the ultimate sacrifice which occurs on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. Through our own seemingly insignificant sacrifices we symbolically emulate Christ’s path to the cross. (Oh, we LOVE symbols!) We give up something that is very integrated in our lives thus rendering us as lacking, and as time goes on, as wanting. Alas, our sacrifice is transformed into a nice euphemism for Lent’s entire purpose- the recognition of how much we as sinners are in ultimate need of Christ for salvation. He becomes your favorite carbonated beverage, your hours watching TV, or the plethora of other things we give up or pledge to do during Lent.

It should be our goal to recognize the season as such. Yet, an acceptance of the absence and needed presence of God in our lives leads to the realization that perhaps as an individual I haven’t steered the right course. Lent is most importantly about personal renewal.

Enter the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

If you don’t go any other time of the year, this is the period of time best to do it in. All souls get tarnished by the wear and tear of free will. You can’t make the right choice all of the time. Reconciliation is a humbling of the human ego through the admission of wrongdoing. What results is a renewal of resolve and spirituality. It’s about the effort.

Let’s look at it this way. Our Supreme Professor has made this test so hard that there is no one gets 100% in this class.  All we can do is go to office hours (multiple times in our lives through Sacrament and through prayer), admit we made wrong choices, and learn from our mistakes, leaving with an empowering resolve to not make the same mistakes. As long as we do our part, we can only hope he takes notice at our efforts and offers a large curve :).

I’ve always wondered why the Feast Of Christ the King, the Sunday before Advent, ushers in the new fiscal year of the liturgical calendar. For me, the season of Lent and Eastern are the essential definition of the Christian experience. Why wouldn’t renewal be synonymous with a new “year?” I digress.

Lenten Goals for 2009

  • No Coke or any similar products
  • Resume regular Mass attendance with ultimate participation in Communion after a good confession prior to Easter
  • No Drinking of Alcohol either
  • Being More Positive and No Cursing
  • Being more expressive and spending more family time
  • The infamous “Lenten Challenge”

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