and Jim Cavera
For additional stories of faith, hope, love and laughter in
the second half
of life, order "Grounded in God" from the following sources:
Order from Liguori Publishing
Also available at
"We cannot isolate our
spiritual life from the rest of our life, for it is in our
day-to-day situations that we experience our personal
transformation toward wholeness."
Joyce Rupp “May I have this
dance?” Ave Maria Press. 1992.
“Let nothing disturb you,
nothing dismay you. All things are passing, God never changes.
Patient endurance attains all things…God alone suffices." St.
Teresa of Avila
Robert Ellsberg from “All
Saints. “ Crossroad Publishing. 2002.
“We are all called to a way of
faith. At each step God asks us to trust him, to say yes to
him, to put our lives in his hands… We want certitude, but
instead God asks us to have faith.”
Fr. Richard Rohr and Joseph
Martos from “The Great Themes of Scripture.” 1988.
“The fruit of prayer is a
clean heart and a clean heart is free to love. The fruit of
love is Peace – Unity – Joy.”
Mother Teresa from “The Joy in
Loving” compiled by Jaya Chalika and Fr. Edward Le Joly.
Penguin Compass. Copyright 1996
“The farther we go on the
journey of faith, the more faith has to do with trust and
self-surrender. The Kingdom of God leaves none of us in our own
little kingdom where we decide what happens.”
Richard Rohr “Simplicity”
“Knowing God’s heart
means consistently, radically, and very concretely to announce
and reveal that God is love and only love, and that every time
fear, isolation, or despair begin to invade the human soul this
is not something that comes from God.”
Henri Nouwen “In
the Name of Jesus
“Thanks is the only thing we
can give [to God]. As a life-stance, gratitude moves us to
cherish everything as a gift to be cared for, nurtured, and
brought to fulfillment.”
Wilkie Au “The Enduring
“Let me not expect more of
friends than they can give – but let me give them more than they
expect. Let me not expect too much of others who, like myself,
struggle under the burden of life, but rather let me be, as best
I can, a friend who does not fail.”
Fr. Benedict J. Groeschel,
C.F.R. Arise from Darkness Ignatius Press
“In your own life, dark times
will come. If they are very dark and bitter, know that you have
plenty of company.”
Fr. Benedict J. Groeschel,
C.F.R. Arise from Darkness
“The first half of life is
consumed with exploring and developing our bodies, educating our
minds and cultivating our talents. Midlife is an ideal time to
venture into the unknown, the territory of your soul.”
Fr. Edward Hays Prayer
Notes to a Friend Forest of Peace copyright 2002
“As you deal with having to
make difficult decisions, realize that “I’ve changed my mind” is
a declaration of repentance, which Jesus said is essential to
entering the Kingdom of God.
Prayer Notes to a Friend
“We are not channels, we are
instruments. Channels give nothing of their own, they just let
water run through them. In our action, we are instruments in
God’s hand and He writes beautifully.” Mother Teresa of
The Joy in Loving
Compiled by Jaya Chalika and Edward Le Joly Penguin Compass
“So I saw that God is our true
peace; and he is our safe protector when we ourselves are in
disquiet, and he constantly works to bring us into endless
Julian of Norwich
“Anything can happen. What
the stories tell us is not that miracles will always happen, or
even often happen, but that some kind of life will triumph over
the many kinds of death. Nothing can separate us from Love.
Pat Livingston Let in
the Light Sorin Books copyright 2006
Center for Action and
Founded by Franciscan Fr. Richard Rohr in 1987, in Albuquerque,
New Mexico to “understand the constructive message of the Gospel
that crosses boundaries of religion, ethnicity, social class and
Christian ministry based in Washington, DC seeks to proclaim and
practice the biblical call to integrate spiritual renewal and
social justice. Features the Sojourners magazine.
Row” lecture series includes 419 topics discussed by some of the
most thought-provoking speakers such as Michael Himes and
Cardinal Avery Dulles, S.J
Medical information and health tips are
presented in a easy to read format.
Links to retreat houses listed by state
make it easy to find a place to rest and relax for a few days.
Also, one section makes it easy to contact a speakers and
presenters available for retreats.
Open Door Community
Our good friends Nelia and Calvin Kimbrough
live and work as partners in this well-established homeless
shelter in Atlanta.
Excellent site for caregivers
Steve Wood’s site is filled with help for
Reflections – By Jim and Ann
Devoted to faith, hope,
love & laughter
in the second half of life
For the past eleven years, Jim and Ann Cavera
have written “The Second Half,” for Catholics in the second half
of life. Their column continues to be published weekly in “The
Message,” for the diocese of Evansville, Indiana.
“The Second Half” has received the first place award for a
family life column from The Catholic Press Association of the
United States and Canada. This award was presented at the annual
media convention held this past May in Toronto, Canada. Their
column also received a first place award from the Catholic
Press in 1999.
In presenting the award, the Catholic Press said: “Deacon Jim
and Ann Cavera have a tight writing style that keeps the pace
flowing. The columns also provide a clear message that can
change almost every reader’s outlook on the subject.”
The columns below were submitted for competition to the Catholic
Working full time in pastoral ministry can be
draining. The last couple of weeks were especially hard because
of five funerals in addition to the regular full schedule. After
a weekend of assisting at three Masses, I spent Sunday afternoon
attending a mini-retreat on defining the thresholds we face in
To say the least, I had been looking forward
to spending Monday with my three and a half year old twin
granddaughters. But Rachel was sick and Grandma had plans for
most of the day, so it turned out to be the first ever Grandpa
and Cate day. We started out by watching a reading readiness
show on PBS that Grandma had introduced the twins to a few
months ago. I was impressed that Cate could identify all the
letters used in the story in addition to doing all the hand
motions used to make the letters.
After the show it was time for some intense
aerobic exercise consisting of jumping on the old beds in our
spare room. Every time Cate jumped, I boosted her higher so that
she could touch the ceiling before coming down. After twenty
minutes of joy-filled leaping, this old grandpa needed a break
and I plopped down on the living room sofa. Cate still had
energy to spare and she took this opportunity to climb from one
chair arm to another and then along the back of the sofa to the
arms of another chair. Three times she carefully mastered this
imaginary circuit without falling into a ‘pit of wild animals.’
I had all but forgotten those days some sixty years ago when my
brothers and I played this very same game to see who would be
the first one to fall and get eaten by a crocodile. For a moment
I wondered how she learned it. There was no time for
recollecting as Cate was ready to go to the park down the
We joined several parents with pre-school
children on a large swing set. “Higher Grandpa” Cate shouted
with the wind blowing in her face as the swing arched toward the
sky. After a while Cate got into a brief conversation with the
girl in the swing next to her. When the girl’s mother came over
Cate introduced herself as “Liesel” and announced, “I am 16
going on 17.” Cate loves her mom’s favorite movie “The Sound of
Music” and often pretends to be the character Liesel. Our day
together included a long lunch, a walk to a nearby store, doing
a few chores in the garage and sitting on the rocking chairs on
the front porch watching people and squirrels and imagining
ourselves living high up in a tall tree.
Monday was a day in which the thresholds of time and space were
crossed to reveal the joy and beauty of Life in the Spirit. One
particular moment, on our walk back from the park, Cate said out
of the blue, “Grandpa, I will always love you.” I had not
expected to encounter the love of God on my Monday with Cate.
Crossing the threshold of the sacred is easier than we think.
One of the
I only knew Mildred for a
short time. For the past two years she had been my 3 o’clock
Friday afternoon visit for Holy Communion. We had a routine.
She always left the door open for me. I didn’t want to scare her
and so each time I entered the house I called out in a loud
voice. Normally I found her in the front room in her favorite
chair, saying her prayers in preparation for receiving the
Lord. One day I came early and caught her vacuuming. I yelled
out, knocked loudly on the wall, and even waved my arms trying
to get her attention but she had her head down focusing on her
task. When she finally saw me she jumped and then started
laughing. I was relieved she had a strong heart.
If I could think of one word
that best described Mildred, it would be faithful. Her life had
not been easy. She spent many years working and caring for her
husband who had been disabled by illness. She had lived alone in
her little house since his death 24 years ago. She had always
wanted children of her own but was not blessed with any, so she
gave her love to other children and they responded to that love.
She lived her life within a twelve mile radius. Her house was
her haven and every day she did her chores, fretting with
herself if she was too sick to get them done. Her closest
companions, two pet birds, were very much a part of her life.
When the weather was good
Mildred could be found on her back porch observing nature and
this was also her favorite place to share stories with
visitors. Her relationship with God was familiar, comfortable
and strong. With watching daily Mass on television, praying the
Rosary, and saying her prayers she never let her illnesses keep
her far from the Lord. For the last 30 years Mildred’s only
income had been her limited Social Security but she could teach
all of us a lesson in generosity. Though our society might
describe her life as poor and lonely, Mildred spoke only in
terms of gratitude for her many blessings…her house, her family,
her birds, her flowers, her porch, visits from friends, good
books, and the mental alertness that allowed her to continue to
experience life. She died on the eve of her 95th
birthday and I can’t think of a better birthday celebration for
Mildred than spending it with her Lord.
are literally hundreds of thousands of people like Mildred who
live quiet and simple lives in tune with our Lord and Savior.
These are often the ones who are our mentors in faith and when
they are no longer with us we miss their presence, especially as
we celebrate Christmas. At the end of every Friday Communion
visit, Mildred would thank me for bringing her Jesus. Today I
give her thanks for having brought Jesus to me.
Among our favorite places to
shop are the bargain tables in bookstores. These tables hold
books called “remainders” and they often sell for $5 or less.
We once found a book called “Reaching Toward the Heights” on one
of these tables. The author, Richard Wurmbrand, was a Lutheran
pastor of Jewish origins. He was born in 1909 in Romania and
later spent fourteen years in Communist prisons. We paid the
asking price of twenty-five cents.
His book is full of wit,
wisdom, stories, and deep spiritual insight, all for the price
of a quarter. All of this had been left undiscovered by people
willing to spend a hundred times the price for a best seller, or
a book on the latest hot topic. Perhaps Pastor Wurmbrand’s book
was overlooked because few people knew his name or his story.
Maybe the title wasn’t catchy enough, or the cover didn’t work.
We paid the quarter because it was too much of a bargain to pass
up and later we discovered the wealth inside.
“Mike” is a sixth grader in
our parish school. He and his father live in an inexpensive
apartment over an empty store on Main Street. With his glasses,
freckles and small frame, nobody paid much attention to Mike
until last week when he won the school Geography Bee. The
eighth graders are still teasing their star athlete and honor
student for losing the Bee to Mike. Who would have guessed that
a sixth grader would know the capitol of Nepal?
Henry David Thoreau said,
“What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters
compared to what lies within us.” We can no more see what is
inside of someone else than we can see the whole spectrum of
light or hear the whole range of sound. We make judgments and
mentally place people on “remainder tables” without a clue as to
what lies within them. People have always decided the value of
someone without looking below the surface. After all, Nathaniel
judged Jesus, sight unseen, with the words, “From Nazareth? Can
anything good come from that place?”
God has a habit of picking
his heroes from the “remainder” tables of humanity. People
thought little of Joseph, an Israelite stuck in an Egyptian
prison, or the slaves God later plucked out of Egypt to become
his people. When Samuel came to Jesse’s house to anoint a king,
no one had thought to call David in from the fields. Few people
stopped in to see the baby born in a stable. How many times
were all of these discounted with a look, excluded or cut down
with a word to the size people had decided they must be?
past week marked another anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. The
unborn, lost to us through abortion, are the most discounted of
all. Only God sees the treasure lost because these innocents
were considered an inconvenience. Among them are ones God might
have chosen to heal us, bring us peace and open our hearts to
his love. If a quarter can buy the life story of a man who
spent his life for Christ, how much is the life of an unborn
Catholic Baby Boomers | Catholic Spirituality | Aging With Grace and Spirit | Catholic Caregivers | Retired Catholics | Catholic Family Life | Catholic Spirituality for Seniors | Catholic Walk of Life
HERE for More Columns]
Questions of aging explored in the light of
We must face difficult situations in the
second half of life. Often, these situations seem to be
questions without answers. To such questions, the only answer
is the kind of faith that has already seen us through so much in
life. From time to time we will consider one of these questions
in the light of faith.
If you have experienced a similar situation and your faith has
brought you to a different, stronger, better place in life than
you could have imagined, would you share your wisdom with us? We
may from time to time post selected responses to the
question. Last names of respondents and names of companies and
/or /other people will be omitted for protection of privacy.
Topic: We Are Not Who We Used to Be
When we look in the mirror, Jim and I both
realize we aren’t what we used to be, especially when it comes
to physical fitness and energy. How do we maintain ourselves
physically as we age? We know what to do, but finding the time
to do it is another story. One problem is that all of the
diets, exercise programs and energy building tips are so
complicated, we would have to drop everything else to make any
of them work. Simple must be better. We have a friend who has
a simple exercise routine and she gave up sugar some years ago.
While we can’t imagine a world without ice cream and cookies,
she does quite well without either. Physically, she appears
much younger than her 70+ years. What are some of the simple
things we can do to make the most of who we are physically at
this point in our lives?
Mending Family Rifts
In his book “The Journey to Peace, Joseph Cardinal Bernardin
says “If you accept the Lord’s peace into your hearts, the
darkness will not be able to overwhelm you.” This afternoon a
friend, who happened to be passing by, saw us in the yard, and
she pulled into the driveway. She had just spent the afternoon
with some of her family at the funeral home because one of her
aunts had passed away.
Though the aunt had lived in a small town nearby, our friend had
not seen her in many years. There had been some trouble over
money in the family long ago and the aunt had not spoken to a
single one of her seven brothers and sisters for as long as our
friend could remember. She had come away from the funeral home
feeling sad that the rift in the family had never been mended.
Why is it that there is often a lack of peace in our families?
Unforgiveness grows in the darkness in our hearts, producing
mildew in the soul. It can’t grow in the presence of peace and
light. The older we become the more we realize how fragile
things are – how little holds our financial system together, how
fragile our health is, our quickly peace within our families can
Many people talk about forgiveness, but often the people the
most difficult to forgive are the ones closest to us. Have you
mended a rift in your family? If so, how did you accomplish
this? Let us know and we will share ideas with others who may
be hoping to bring about peace in one small corner of the earth.
We look forward to our family reunion each
summer. It isn’t as large as it was in years past. Both Dad
and Mom have passed away. Younger generations have moved on or
moved away. Still we look forward to seeing those who come.
We have heard some creative solutions for
getting family together. One family rents a house in a
different part of the country each year so that the burden of
travel doesn’t always land on one part of the family.
Another couple always rents the same
condominium on the Gulf Coast of Florida for the month of
September each year. Children, grandchildren, aunts, uncles and
cousins come and go for a few days or longer as their schedules
While family reunions offer great
opportunities, they also hold pitfalls. What happens when some
family members can’t stand the sight of each other? What if
some family members have unattractive habits, drink too much, or
are inconsiderate of others?
It is becoming increasingly difficult to
hold our families together. If you have ideas, tips or
solutions on how family reunions can be richer, happier
experiences for all, please let us know.
E-mail responses may be sent to: