Death with dignity

At a Sunday afternoon Mass in August, Deacon Bob approached the podium to speak.  “Over this past week, I went to the doctor and I got my test results back.  I found out that my cancer has returned, and I have at most six months to live.”  He paused.  I felt the anxious sadness ripple through the congregation, but Deacon Bob stood tall, his face serene.  “But you know,” he continued, “I found out my prognosis on Thursday.  But God knew on Wednesday, and God knew on Tuesday.  Nothing is a surprise to God.”  He continued to speak for several minutes, sharing his meditations on the end of life with us.  He spoke with great academic depth, but at a level that a layperson could understand.

What struck me was how even though this man was facing his imminent death, he was the center of strength for all of us as we grappled with the news together.  With his unshakeable faith that everything was right with the world, including his place in it, “Nothing is a surprise to God” was a supremely comforting way to accept the inevitable.

Through the fall and into the winter, Deacon Bob continued to serve at Mass, and he continued to give the homily from time to time, with his trademark blend of calm wisdom and approachable intellectualism.  Until one Sunday he stumbled, and then straightened up as we rose for the Creed, his face ashen.  He never served at Mass again.

One late January morning before Mass, a red-eyed Father Jim walked to the front of the sanctuary and addressed the congregation – “I wanted to let you all know that Deacon Bob passed away a little bit after 2 this morning.  Both his wife and I were able to be with him as he passed into the arms of Our Savior.  He was very thankful for all your love, support, and prayers over these last several months.”  All of us spent Mass either openly weeping or stifling tears – even Father Jim, usually so full of joy to say Mass, choked back tears that morning.

Time passed, one Sunday after another, and eventually Mass without Deacon Bob became the new normal.

The following January, on the first anniversary of Deacon Bob’s death, Father Jim took a few minutes to remember him – “Even at the end, he never doubted, not for one minute, that God loved him and that God was with him.”

Watching the end of Deacon Bob’s life was like watching the textbook definition of a good death.  The type of death that I wish for myself and for everyone I love.  If I am given the gift of knowing when my time is coming, I hope I have the courage to face it, accept it, and prayerfully await the end with half the wisdom of Deacon Bob.

For Brittany Maynard, Deacon Bob, and anyone else who has had to look death in the eye.

candle prayer

Cartoon Roundup: the St. John Paul II Edition

I nabbed these cartoons forever ago, when St. JPII died, and I ran them on my blogspot blog a few years later.  I still think they’re great, and today seemed like a great day to re-run them:



This picture and this quote seemed to capture him nicely.  And it’s a great reminder that death is not the end.


This is a particularly famous quote of his.  I love it because FAR too many people seem as if they need to be reminded that the sky is NOT falling at any given time.  And I love the silhouette + quote layout – simple and sweet.


“We are the light of the world, may our light shine before all, that they may see the good that we do and give glory to God.”  ~Jean Greif, “We are the Light of the World”  I am generally not one for Biblical references, mainly because they tend to get overused, tired out, and/or used to bludgeon the heathen unbelievers (or Catholics, those idol-worshipping demonspawn), but this Matthew 5:14 reference is very poetic here – when St. JPII died his earthly light went out.  But see also the first picture above – death is not the end.


And another Biblical reference – this time Matthew 25:21.  Usually when I see this verse applied to someone contemporary it comes across as insufferably arrogant, but somehow it feels okay to do this for a canonized pope.  This is definitely my favorite use of this particular verse that I have seen.


And I saved my favorite for last – St. JPII was famous for kissing the ground everywhere he went, and I love the imagery of him stopping to kiss the ground even before entering the gates of Heaven.

Happy St. John Paul II Feast Day!

Happy St. John Paul II Feast Day!

So this is the first modern saint that I have any sort of passing familiarity with.  In reading about his life and living through his papacy, it is very clear that his canonization was well-deserved.  And WOW was it exciting to see the canonization fast-track!  I had no idea Church bureaucracy could move so fast.

Anyway, in his honor today I am sharing a somewhat old video of St. JPII quotes autotuned to the song “Dynamite” –

You really do want to watch all the way through to the end.  The beginning is very clunky and not all that pleasant to listen to, in my opinion, but by the middle it had definitely grown on me.  And when I say “watch” I do mean that – there’s some very heartwarming clips in there.  My favorite is the one where St. JPII is speaking somewhere in front of a microphone, a toddler comes crawling up to him, and before one of the other priests can grab the toddler out of the way, St. JPII has already picked him up with a big smile.

Anyway – enjoy!

Woman discriminated against for being Christian

Or, more accurately, she was discriminated against for the brand of Christianity practiced by the college she went to.  Here’s the story.

The TL/DR version is that Bethany Paquette applied to be an assistant guide intern for a company called Amaruk, which is a Norwegian wilderness tourism company.  Assuming she truly is an experienced river rafting guide as described in the link, this seems like a great job for her to apply for.

Now, tell me, dear readers – what normally happens when you apply for a job at a company that doesn’t want to hire you?  That’s right – usually nothing.  They either ignore your application altogether or send a form letter with some pleasant-sounding bovine excrement like “Thank you for applying.  Unfortunately all our Senior TPS Report Analyst II positions are filled.  However, we will promptly print out your electronic application so that we have the pleasure of physically shredding it.”

But is that what this fine, upstanding company did?  Of course not.  These self-described Vikings decided to take a moral stance and change the world for the better by … lashing out at the applicant because they didn’t like her alma mater, Trinity Western University.  Here is the email chain.

Now, in fairness, the fact that she supposedly didn’t meet all the qualifications for the job is the first thing said in the reply to her.  But it’s never made clear exactly which qualifications she didn’t meet, and I admit I’m kinda curious –

1) The fitness standards aren’t outlandish – I met them myself when I was 19 and in the Air Force.

2) She’s clearly fluent in English

3) I assume she is “legally entitled to work in region of operation.”

4) I’m also going to assume that she has “no violation under any wildlife legislation.”

So of the possible qualifications, that leaves only current active/inactive PAWGI Certified Assistant Guide (CAG) certification or the “backcountry experience” (however that is defined and assessed) that she supposedly didn’t meet.

And while they make a lot of noise about the fact that she knew or should have know that she didn’t meet the qualifications, is it REALLY so ridiculous that she applied anyway knowing that she didn’t meet all the minimum qualifications?  Men do it often enough.  In fact, it’s a good possibility that it’s one of the reasons for the $.077/$1 wage gap (not an entirely meaningless number to the extent that it results from individual choices that are not freely made).  According to these figures, Ms. Paquette displays confidence in her abilities uncharacteristic of most women.  If this is how men play the game, and we want to tell women to change their behavior to succeed at the game as it’s played today, we need to encourage this behavior in women, even in the face of this type of rejection.  I hope Ms. Paquette doesn’t let this incident kill her self-confidence, and I hope more women start doing the same.

But this seems like such a random, obviously-horrible way to engage with a job applicant, I wondered whether there was some explanation other than anti-Christian bigotry or misogyny.  Usually these prejudices, where they exist, aren’t so … well-broadcasted to “the enemy,” in no small part because of the teeth of anti-discrimination laws.  So I scanned through the comments at the CBC link above to see if anyone chimed in with any helpful info, and I ran across something from a creatively-named fellow named Not Paid to Post Here: “The outdoor adventure company provides outdoor adventure services for gay men.”  Oh.  Well, if that’s true, then the outburst doesn’t quite seem so random.  Not excusable by any means, but somewhat explainable.

To see if I could verify this, I did a couple Google searches for gay-friendly travel, gay-friendly outdoor adventures, expeditions, things of that nature, but Amaruk never showed up in the first handful of links.  Not even when I followed some of the links and clicked around a bit.  And I poked around the Amaruk website, seeing several muscular, shirtless men (no women that I saw) as well as the very standard-sounding “We embrace diversity and offer our staff and clients a tolerant environment free of harassment and prejudice.”  Okay.  Does this seem to be discretely marketed to gay men to you?  I honestly can’t tell, having never spent much time trying to figure out the sexual orientation of anyone I know.

But just for fun, let’s run with this primarily-gay-clientele hypothesis for a moment.  I see two possibilities – 1) this would be a GREAT work environment for a straight woman, as sexual harassment from the clientele shouldn’t be a concern; or 2) the company is concerned that someone who voluntarily associated with a gay-unfriendly institution would be permanently out of commission due to “moral objections” to leading a group of gay singles and couples.  But consideration of whether an applicant would fit in with the company culture should come AFTER determining whether the applicant is qualified.

Whether Ms. Paquette was rejected because she legitimately wasn’t qualified for the job or because she wouldn’t be a good fit for the company culture, Amaruk completely bungled their handling of this.  At the very least they could have just clicked “delete” and not even responded.  I’m sure they do it all the time.  But they decide to crucify (ha ha – see what I did there?) a TWU graduate with NO CONTROL over Trinity’s administrative policies because of objections they have to the institution as a whole?  Remember the guy who went through the window at Chick-Fil-A to harass an employee over the viewpoints of the company owners?  Yeah.  Very similar thing.  That guy was denounced as an asshole and ultimately fired; rightly so.  For the same reasons, and also because it appears they very clearly, self-righteously and unapologetically broke the law, I hope they lose the court case and I hope they pay for it.