Posted by: wordofthevine | September 25, 2015

Learning to Live Like we are Dying!

One of the things that I do as a hospice chaplain is to help people review their lives, to find the themes and the values that have added meaning to their lives.Most often, they are not worrying about surface concerns, buying a bigger house or car, getting an advancement at work, redecorating their hopope-francis-chair-msguse. While these everyday concerns play out often in our minds, at the end of life, short of having enough money for a funeral, most concerns center around making a difference in the world and in the lives of other people. While having enough food, clothing and housing to meet our needs are undeniably important issues, our lives involve more than this for ourselves. We want to give to others and receive what we need through the lens of faith.

This change in vantage point reminds me of what St. Ignatius of Loyola used as part of a rule for discernment of spirits when we have to make a decision, consider yourself on your death bed and see what you would decide about this concern from this vantage point. In many ways, this vantage point is what attracts me to work as a chaplain for hospice. Many concerns fall away when we are faced with the reality of the end of our lives. We pick out and decide things consistent with our deepest values rather than fleeting concerns. I think that this reorientation of our priorities is what our faith in God is meant to engender in us. Isn’t this way of being what attracts so many to Pope Francis. He lives in a way consistent with the Gospel rather than what culture would dictate to him based on his position as pontiff. Rather than drive around New York or Washington DC in a limousine, he transverses the cities in a small fiat.

I started thinking about these ideas at morning Mass with Father’s blessing. He said, “Let us go forth to live the mystery of our Faith in the context of our lives.” Let us learn from Pope Francis’ example and from the perspectives we would take at the end of life to live in line with the values of Jesus. Rather than focus on small self focused concerns, let us look outward to make a difference in the lives of people who  need a touch around us.

What about you? Where are you directing your energies today: towards the mystery of faith in the context of your life, towards ultimate concerns.  We want to learn like a song I heard on the radio, we want ” to live we were dying.”~Mary


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