Friday, May 29, 2015

Book Review - Crossing the Threshold of Hope

Crossing the Threshold of HopeCrossing the Threshold of Hope by Pope John Paul II
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Be not afraid! (to read this book).

I loved this Q & A between an Italian journalist and St. John Paul II, but it did present some challenges. This book is unique in that the style is informal, yet the content ranges from deep philosophical theories (JP II's patented phenomenological background) to theology (in his replies he refers to many of the Church's Encyclicals and the Magisterium's documents issued after the Second Vatican Council).

The range of topics covered (the renewed Marian devotions, human rights, abortion and the culture of death, ecumenism, attitudes regarding Muslims and Buddhists, the Church's relevance in the modern world, the problem of good and evil, etc.) offers a goldmine of information on John Paul II's own personal views and those views are complimented with the Church's official position. The answers provided are succinct, yet complete.

Although it is clear that this interview takes place at the close of the twentieth century, most of the topics covered have been debated and explored by the faithful since Jesus' time.

Be warned, however, that one will walk away from reading Crossing the Threshold of Hope with a fairly extensive reading list.

This small volume of insights is essential reading for Catholics who take their faith seriously and for readers interested in further exploring Catholic theology and social doctrine.

View all my reviews

Friday, May 08, 2015

New Short Story: The Neighbor

I've got a new release! The Neighbor is a very short story about a very evil neighbor. It's free on my website (in .pdf format) and also at Smashwords (all e-book formats, including .mobi for Kindle).

The Neighbor

Ray's neighbors, Suze and Danny-Boy, experience a calamitous series of events.

I hope you enjoy the story.


Friday, May 01, 2015

The Power of Words - Part 3

Please enjoy the third installment of The Power of Words, one of the literary short stories included in my Guppy Soup collection.

The Power of Words - Part III

Mom woke up when I entered her room. The oxygen mask lay around her neck, a garish oversized plastic necklace that was almost the size of her whole tiny face. The night nurse walked in and slipped the hissing mask back on, as she presumably had done a number of times before. She was no sooner out of the room when Mom slipped it off again. I stood off to one side, watching this scene play out. I still hadn't taken off my coat.
Mom's big brown eyes turned to me. She smiled dry cracked lips in recognition.
"Hi Mom," I whispered. I sat on the edge of the bed, leaned over and kissed her waxy forehead. I slid the mask back on her wrinkled face, not prepared to kill her just yet.
"So, what's going on?" I took her cold hand in mine, knowing there wouldn't be too many more opportunities to feel a beating pulse.
She pulled the mask off again. Dark circles rimmed her clear eyes. Doe's eyes. A peaceful look on her face erased some of the smoker's creases around her eyes and mouth. For the first time in a long, long while she looked like my mom again.
"I'm tired, Honey," she whispered before drawing a raspy breath. Long-time smoker. Just like Dad.
I reclaimed her hand and sighed deeply. Could I do this, even for her? I didn't know. Wasn't suicide a sin? Wasn't letting someone suffer also a sin?
"Are you sure about this, Mom?"
"I'm tired. In pain. I'm tired of it all," she repeated weakly.
Another nurse came in, clipped an oxygen sensor to Mom's nicotine-stained finger. Took a reading.
"Mrs. St. Jean has less than fifty percent of the oxygen she needs in her blood. The mask has to go back on and stay on."
"Thank you. I'll look after it. Um… Do you have any morphine… for her pain?"
She nodded and looked away. We understood each other. Do nurses take the Hippocratic oath? My godmother was a retired nurse. I'd have to remember to ask her.
The nurse left us alone. I didn't put the mask back on when Mom removed it again. Who was I to stand between Mom and Paradise? Had she not suffered enough in her lifetime? Had she not given me life? This was the least I could do to return the favor. We had both prayed during the week. Obviously, she had either used the right supplications, or her words were directed to a stronger deity.
So, this was goodbye, then.
"Will we see each other again?" I asked as I gently stroked her hand. My throat squeezed so tight I could barely breathe. I could have used some of that oxygen escaping all around us in the room.
She nodded. Smiled.
A nurse came in to give her a shot of morphine. It must not have been very strong because later, she awoke and asked for another. The pain was apparently unbearable. I guess. When you're asphyxiating yourself so slowly, I could see how your whole body might be craving oxygen. I went in search of the floor nurse and her handy ampoule of morphine.
I explained my mother's request. They knew. At least, with the morphine, I told myself, Mom wouldn't suffer at the end, or she wouldn't know she was suffering.
After she received another shot, she stayed awake for a few minutes and squeezed my hand.
I pushed aside the ceramic angel figurine, a gift from her nephew, moved two flower vases off the marble window ledge, and opened the drapes. She looked out the window at the cold snowscape beyond the parking lot seven stories below. The sun shone brightly beneath a band of grey snow clouds in the east. A beautiful day to die. Barely a week before Christmas.
"What time is it?" Mom asked, for what seemed like the hundredth time in two hours.
"Almost seven," I reported.
She lost consciousness and fought for each breath for an hour after that. I gasped right along with her. I held her cold, bony hand. At some point it stopped squeezing back.
Even though my eyes never strayed from her face, I couldn't tell you when she actually drew her last breath. I suddenly realized that she had died, yet I kept seeing her chest rise, as if she were still breathing. When the day nurse came in I told her I thought it was over, that Mrs. St. Jean had died a short while earlier.
"Oh!" she exclaimed, and quickly left to get Baby Doc. The vascular surgeon happened to be making her morning rounds. In her case, I guess they were mourning rounds that day.
After Dr. Genet officially pronounced Mom dead and offered me her sincere condolences, she repeated that she couldn't quite understand my mother's odd case. If she thought those words would console me in my grief, she was mistaken. She left me to deconstruct what I was doing in that hospital room in Sherbrooke. What I had been doing there all week. What I was going to do now, after I left the room.
Ten years later, this is my latest attempt to understand the situation and I still don't know what to make of it. I feel as if all I've accomplished has been to put another layer of words between myself and those tragic events.
Maybe someone will read this account and understand.


* * *

Thank you for reading the third and final part of "The Power of Words". I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed sharing it with you. 

Guppy Soup can be purchased from itunes (iBooks)SmashwordsB&NAmazon and all ebook retailers. 

Blogger Wordpress Gadgets