Friday, September 7, 2007


You are smart, good looking and you have lots of cool things. You have sway among your peers and can do so much with what God gave you. And most importantly people look up to you and think you are cool.

Unfortunately none of that matters much. You are important in a much deeper and lasting way. If your self-esteem is built on these sandy beeches your castle will eventually fall for they will all fail you. They are air that inflates the balloon that ever so slowly (or in some cases quickly) escapes out into the atmosphere and dissipates.

My Dad is in a nursing home now. He is healthy as a horse. As a matter of fact he got into a fight with another gentleman recently. When the nursing home called they said, “If it is any consolation, your father took him down.” His problem is his memory. Or lack of it.

It is getting progressively worse. This past week he asked me if he had a son named John. I raised my hand. “You?” he asked with some surprise. “Yep.” “Is there another one?” he asked, “I could have sworn there was another one.” Ah well . . . two sons named John. That would be interesting.

So he has no memory anymore and can no longer figure out the simplest of tasks. Once far more fit than me or any of my friends he is now putting on weight and the effects of being on this earth for almost 90 years are showing on him. He has gone through most of his estate to pay for his care. His peers still drop by to see him but he barely remembers them and no longer is cock of the walk.

If we were to rate his dignity and worth by worldly standards I am afraid there would be people who would scratch their heads and say, “Why bother?” In fact they do. Actually persons who do not meet at least some of the above criteria are in general considered less than other human beings and quite often mistreated or ignored and too often just plane done way with.

Thus people who are very ill, or very old, or noticeably mentally or physically challenged, or who committed a crime, or who are very poor, or who are our enemy, or unwanted in the womb, or are from the latest ethnic background deemed unfashionable, being a bother and seemingly cumbersome are subtly eased out of lime light to drift blissfully into oblivion from our sense of those deserving absolute justice.

Fortunately these are not the criteria that give us dignity; that give us that worth upon which we should build our self-esteem. There is only one thing that makes you infinitely worthy of life, love, and respect, only one lasting thing that will never fade, one sure thing upon which we should anchor our self-esteem. And it is this: That the all-powerful God chose you to be His son or daughter. That He who does not need you chose you out of pure gift and love. From the womb before the dawn He begot you, yearns for you, waits for you. He was even willing to die for you and gives Himself to you fully still, everyday if you wish Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity.

Of course if you have talent and abilities, use them. If God gave you looks and advantages employ them. If you have influence or resources don’t be ashamed of them. Use all these things for His glory. But though useful to us, to a great extent these are window dressings. There is nothing more important than taking worth in being a child of God.

And it will only be then that you realize the world is full of brothers and sisters (even if we don’t always get a long) and come to comprehend their great worth and dignity. For in the end we all go to the grave and power, looks, influence, and gold will all be left behind and we will stand before the throne and all that will matter is if we chose back our Father who chose us as His children. It is then that true worth and dignity will shine forth like the noonday sun. That is why my Dad is still worthy of care and love and respect. That is why you are.


uncle jim said...

i don't know if sattvicwarrior would approve, but i think this is a beautiful post

Anonymous said...

Brings tears to my eyes for many reasons.
Thank you!

eileen said...

When you say: "That the all-powerful God chose you to be His son or daughter. He who does not need you chose you out of pure gift and love"... wow... Thank you, Father for reminding us.

Anonymous said...

Amen, and amen to all the above, and to all Fr. V has said here. I'm glad your dad won, but it's sad, as he'll be watched even more closely, now, which breaks all our hearts. As for you being a tad fuzzy to him, I think maybe he remembers a much younger you, presently, but you'd get no argument from me for two John Valenchecks.

I was showing an older friend in the home I work at her photo album. I pointed to the photo on the cover, "Now, who is this man?" She smiled and said, "Oh, that's my husband." I pointed to the woman posing with him and asked who it was. "Oh, that's his wife."

Husband's elderly aunt told us the story of her childhood dog, Brownie, one day. She told us 15 times in the space of an hour. She also eventually forgot what one does with the Host, and that about killed us, because this woman was all-servant to Him. She lived for Him, and for all others because of Him. The only reason she didn't marry was because she wanted to take care of her aged mother. After that passing, the only reason she didn't enter the convent was because she was too old.

There was one woman, mother of 5 daughters and grandmother of zillions, who was now in a secure unit. She had an alarm, so we'd hear it and dash to her room to find her holding herself as she ran to the bathroom. She would come out each night in her jammies to visit. When she'd sigh very heavily, it was time for a treat. She'd peel that banana, take a bite, then burst into beacons of joy. "Oh, this is SO GOOD. Here, here, have a bite!"

There are others who no longer speak, or can even scratch an itch, who are nailed to the cross of a hospital bed, and are now spoonfed even their liquids.

These all are other folks loved ones and authority figures, bankers, teachers, etc; and now, they have become our babies and toddlers, in a way.. but always, they are the Lord's own most precious chosen ones. What stunning knowledge, and you've captured it so beautifully.


karyn said...

From the womb before the dawn He begot you, yearns for you, waits for you. He was even willing to die for you and gives Himself to you fully still, everyday if you wish Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity.

What inherent worth and dignity we have, indestructable by the trappings of a world too often ignorant and full of misunderstanding.

Amen. Amen. Amen. =D

Adoro te Devote said...

I can't help but see echoes of my Mom in your descriptions of you Dad. My Mom is still doing well, but yeas of medication and illnes have turned her into a diferent person. Where her mind used to be hasn't been for a long time. Where she used to be quick to pick up on double meanings...she now needs definitions of everything. She still surprises us, though, and she's still "there".

Thanks for this. For those of us who still have our parents around, we need to appreciate them more, and prepare for what's coming, and always, always always...remember their dignity.

Timely especially for this generation; the way we treat our parents is going to set the pace for how our children treat us.

paramedicgirl said...

Beautifully written post, Father. Just curious - have you ever written any books?