Friday, August 10, 2012

What Does this Wood Carving Mean?

by Steve Ray on August 10, 2012

This was in the hospital. What does it mean?

When I went to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital to visit my dad in Ann Arbor Michigan, I stopped by to pray at the Blessed Sacrament in the chapel. I also went to Mass once. In front of the chapel was this wood carving.

I also, like all of you, sat in front of it puzzled. Who are the women, what’s in their hands? What does it mean? Then it came to me. A catholic hospital, especially one with the word “mercy” in it’s name, practices the Corporal Acts of Mercy.

The six items held by the women representing the virtues or acts of mercy are taken straight from the Gospels – from Matthew 25:34-36 and are the basis for judging whether people are going to heaven or hell.

From the gospel we read: “Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; ?for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, ? I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’”

Humbling words! I think the 5th image represents flowers that are often brought to the sick in hospitals.

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My Dad: Hours or Days, not Weeks

by Steve Ray on August 10, 2012

Love after all these years. Almost married 73 years. Eating only a few bites a day. Can't last long that way.

Dad is out of the hospital and back home. He is now officially in hospice with extreme efforts removed and all the family around him and my mom. My kids are with him 24-hours a day. As soon as my talks are done here in Anacortes Washington Janet and I are rushing home Sunday.

For those praying his name is Charles Robert Ray. My mom is Frances Ray.

The doctor said to give him food and water as he is able to receive them, but we are all aware he is slipping fast. Our job is now to keep him comfortable and loved until the angels take him home. Dad is ready to go. (It is far easier for me to write about this than to talk about it.)

Two of my daughters praying over grandpa. What great kids I have. They have dearly loved their grandpa.

I have no regrets. I’ve loved him and been a son who honors his father and dad has done nothing but loved us and been a fantastic example of a father, a provider and a Christian.

I remember that Ford Motor Company regularly offered my dad promotions. He always asked, “Will I need to work more hours?” They replied, “Of course.” My dad responded, “I am sorry to decline but I have three boys at home and they need me more than Ford Motor Company does.”

My son Jesse spending the night to care for my dad and his grandfather

He spent his evenings reading us stories. After we went to bed he recorded stories on a reel-to-reel tape recorder for us to listen to while he was at work. Weekends were for the boys, me and my brothers, to help us ride the pony, to work in the garden, to read us stories, to BE with us. I knew this day would arrive and I will grieve when he is gone. I believe in the resurrection and eternal life with every fiber of my being, but that won’t stop me from missing the man who was always my best friend, the man who brought  me into existence and taught me to be a man.

My dad reading me stories in better times

The loving arms of the Catholic Church are so uniting and reassuring at the end of life. I wish my dad and family could be experiencing that right now but unhappily it isn’t the case. But my dad loved nothing more in his life than Jesus Christ and I am confident of his destination.

 

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Steve with Andrew Jones

Today was a busy and exciting day. It started out with a meeting with my new friend Andrew Jones, a PhD in Medieval history and a Catholic scholar. He hosted us on a tour of Logos Bible Software in Bellingham Washington. Of the 300+ employees I think you can count those over 30 years onl on the fingers of my two hands.

In 1989 I discovered a Bible Software program call CDWord LIbrary. It went defunct until 1009 when Logos Bible Software purchased the rights and turned it into the premier software program for Bible Study.

Sharing with Logos Employees about understanding their new Catholic users

I’ve had it up and running on my screen every day since. Today was kind of like a pilgrimage for me going to their headquarters, meeting Bob Pritchett the founder and his brother Dan Pritchett. These guys are geniuses.

Twenty-five of their employees joined my wife Janet and I in the large conference room where I had the privilege of discussing our conversion to the Catholic Church and helping them understand their Catholic users.

The vast majority of employees (and users) are Fundamentalist and Evangelical Protestants. The Catholic division is new and relatively small but exceptionally well-staffed and growing. I think the hour conversation was marvelous.

We took of tour of the multi-building facility and met the movers and the shakers. Very fun for me after using their product for over two decades. After lunch, a preview of coming attractions with new updates, I did a few video promos for them.

Steve and Janet Ray sharing dinner with Mark and Janet Shea

Then we drove back down to Seattle along the coast and visited with Mark Shea and his wife Janet. We sat along the coast of Puget Sound and enjoyed some fresh seafood and excellent conversation. We agreed again that we were kindred spirits. Mark is an excellent writer and a convert from atheist to Evangelical to Catholic. He writes books and is a staff writer for National Catholic Register.

We drove back through the mountains of northwest Washington State and crashed after a long day.

Tomorrow, after we exercise together again in the AM, my wife Janet and I will drive out on the peninsula’s to Anacortes where we will join up with the good folks at St. Marys. I a have the joy of giving two of my favorite talks at the Catholic Family Conference. We’ll head home on Monday, catch up a few days at home, see how my aging father is doing in the hospital (we think he is dying) and then head to Lubbock Texas.

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