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Ann and Jim Cavera

Catholic Spirituality

For additional stories of faith, hope, love and laughter in the second half
of life, order "Grounded in God" from the following sources:

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"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 Heart”

“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 copyright 1995

“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 Calcutta

The Joy in Loving Compiled by Jaya Chalika and Edward Le Joly Penguin Compass copyright 2000

“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 peace.”

Julian of Norwich Showings 

“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

Web Picks

Center for Action and Contemplation

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 gender.”

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.

Boston College

The “Front 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 Catholic families

Reflections – By Jim and Ann Cavera

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 Press Association.

Monday with Cate

Jim and Ann Cavera

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 celebrating Liturgy.

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 street.  

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 Faithful

Jim Cavera

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.

There 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.

The Discount Table

Ann Cavera

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?    

This 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 child worth?
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

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Common Ground

Questions of aging explored in the light of faith.

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? 

Topic: 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 be destroyed.

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.

Topic:  Family Reunions

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 permit.

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:

Common Ground Archives

The scripture quotations contained herein are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and are used by permission.  All rights reserved.


©2006 Catholic Senior Spirit

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