Communion of Saints

February 17, 2018

The Challenge of Being in a Service Business

Last month, on January 21, 2018, I celebrated the 35th anniversary of the opening my law practice. I graduated from law school in May 1982, and received my license to practice law in November 1982. Two months later, on January 21, 1983, I rented an office from an established Peoria attorney.

Nine years later (1992), I hired my first associate attorney. At that time, I was 35 years old. The attorney that I hired was 10 years younger than me, and had just graduated from law school.

At the time that I hired the attorney, I had an office manager, two full-time secretaries, a full-time receptionist, and a part-time secretary. Hiring an attorney was a big step for me, and I didn’t feel as though I knew enough about running a business to continue to move forward without some assistance.

The same year that I hired the attorney, I signed a contract with Gerber Business Development Corporation to provide me with coaching on how to properly run and grow my business. I had committed to paying the attorney a large salary and I didn’t want to make any catastrophic mistakes in managing and growing my law firm.

I found out about the Gerber company when I read a book that was written by its founder, Michael Gerber. The title of the book was, The E-Myth: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It. What Gerber said in his book about small businesses in America hit a raw nerve with me.

I had previously represented several business clients who had done well for a while and then, for one reason or another, had made mistakes that caused their businesses to fail. I had also handled several bankruptcies for individuals who had failed in their own businesses. Many of the businessmen that Gerber wrote about in his book reminded me of my own clients and their failure to succeed in their businesses.

February 10, 2018

The Death of a Special Christ-Like Priest

Georgette and I met on August 4, 1978, when we were both 21 years old. We were married in June 1980, while I was on break from law school. Ten months later, in March 1981, we had our first child, Harry. I graduated from law school in May of the following year.

We moved back to Peoria during the summer of 1982. At that time, Georgette was pregnant with our second child, Anna. I started my law practice in January 1983, and Anna was born the following month. We had our third child, Maria, 13 months later, in March 1984. When Maria was born, I was 26 years old.

It was during this period of time that my mom and my sister Colleen started commenting about how I had become too serious and I needed to lighten up. Colleen is a year and a half younger than me, and of my eight sisters, she was the one I was closest to while we were growing up.

When my mom and sister told me that I had become too serious, I hadn’t realized that my behavior had changed from the young, carefree guy who liked to have a good time and tease other people to an older guy who felt overwhelmed by the burdens of life.

But I wasn’t bothered by their comments about my being too serious. To me, that was what responsible adults did — they grew up and did their best to care for and support their families. In some respects, my mom and my sister were correct. My newfound responsibilities made me feel overwhelmed. At times, I felt as though I was doing well just to keep my head above water. Georgette and I had three babies in three years — Maria was born on Harry’s third birthday — and I was doing my best to support my family while managing my law practice.

Now, more than 30 years later, Georgette and I have 13 grandchildren, with three more on the way. I’m still serious, but I’m having more fun now than I’ve had in years. I’ve given myself permission to lighten up and revert to my childhood when I’m around my grandchildren. Their parents sometimes get irritated with me because they think I get their children riled up too much. But that’s OK with me, because I’m finally able to do what my mom and my sister wanted me to do all those years ago.

February 3, 2018

A Dream & The Greatest Showman

I recently joined my wife and some of our children at a local theater to see the movie, The Greatest Showman. The movie is a musical about the life of P.T. Barnum. It begins when Barnum is a boy. He is the son of a poor tailor who does work for a wealthy man. The man looks down on Barnum and his father, because of their lower-class status.

Barnum is a fun-loving boy who is infatuated with the wealthy man’s daughter. The man knows that Barnum likes his daughter and makes it clear to Barnum that he’ll never be good enough for her. After that, the daughter is sent to finishing school for several years. While she is away at school, she and Barnum continue to keep in contact by writing letters to each other.

Years later, when the daughter returns home from school, she is reunited with Barnum. They end up getting married and starting a family. After borrowing money from a local bank, Barnum buys an old museum building in downtown Manhattan. He then sets up Barnum’s American Museum, which showcases wax figures.

After struggling to make his new business work, Barnum’s children tell him that instead of featuring wax figures, he needs to have characters who are “alive.” Barnum likes the idea and begins searching for and hiring “freaks” to serve as performers. As he is rounding up his new cast of characters, Barnum sings the unique and mesmerizing song, Come Alive.

As Barnum’s new show gains popularity in New York, a reporter for the New York Herald is highly critical of Barnum and his “freak show.” The reporter’s columns about Barnum and his show stir up trouble among certain people in the community, including the upper-class members of the community.

To enhance his reputation with the upper-class, Barnum convinces Philip Carlisle, a local playwright from a wealthy family, to join him in his business. To raise Barnum’s status, Carlisle arranges a trip to Europe for Barnum and his cast of characters to meet Queen Victoria.

January 27, 2018

Why is That Church in a Music Video?

I’ve written before about how I was involved in music during my high school and college years. When I was a senior in high school, I formed a barbershop quartet with three of my friends. I did the same thing in college. While my high school quartet had a limited number of performances, my college quartet performed at several community functions and events.

I’ve always been a big fan of quartets and other a cappella groups. One of the groups that I currently pay attention to is Home Free, an American a cappella singing group that consists of five young men. Home Free got its big break in 2013, when it won a competition on the NBC television show, The Sing-Off. The grand prize that year was $100,000, plus a recording contract with Sony.

Last month, Home Free performed at the Peoria Civic Center. Georgette and I attended the show with some friends. My favorite Home Free song is How Great Thou Art. The music video of the song is posted on YouTube. The video has generated more than 13 million views.

In the video, the group is standing on a hill that is surrounded by several hundred acres of land. The scenery in the background includes cascading slopes and mountains. The beautiful harmony of the group is matched by the gorgeous land that surrounds them. The only building in the video is a small country church, which shows up in a field near the end of the video.

I have the video saved on an iPad that sits on a stand on my bathroom counter. Ordinarily, when I’m in the bathroom in the morning getting ready for work, I use the iPad to play educational, self-improvement, or religious recordings. In the evening while I’m getting ready for bed, I usually use the iPad to listen to music.

My son, Harry, and his wife Kathryn live about five minutes away from where my wife and I live. Because they live so close to us, they’re able to stop by our house to visit on a regular basis. Whenever they stop by for a visit, their two oldest sons, Harry and Liam, immediately start looking around the house for me. Harry is 5 years old and Liam is 3 years old.

January 20, 2018

Why Is It So Hard To Practice Patience?

It doesn’t happen very often, but every once in a while, I complain directly to God about something that’s bothering me. Last week, my frustration with an ongoing issue finally got to the point that one of my thoughts went up to God in the form of a question: Why can’t you just have an angel appear to me in a dream and tell me what to do? I’m tired of playing these cat and mouse games where I’m always struggling to try to figure out what I should do.

Of course, I immediately felt guilty about addressing God in this manner. Who did I think I was? A prophet? King Solomon? Saint Joseph?

But I get extremely frustrated at times, because while I want to do the right thing, I often feel as though I need specific direction from God. Although I’ve always been good at solving problems, I don’t like it when I have to wait on God to reveal pieces of the puzzle that are needed to solve the problem I’m struggling with.

I’m convinced that one of the primary reasons God operates this way is to teach me the virtues of humility and patience. If He sent an angel to tell me how to solve my problems, I wouldn’t need to learn and practice humility and patience. I would simply wait for instructions from the angel and then take credit for being a special child of God.

Most of us fail to realize that in order to really be humble, we must first suffer humiliations. And we must accept whatever humiliations that come our way with love and gratitude. While humility is the most important of all virtues, the virtue of patience has to be among the top five virtues. Why? Because it’s so difficult to put into practice.

Last week, I wrote about the three grades of patience, which are, to bear difficulties without interior complaint, to use hardships to make progress in virtue, and to desire the cross and afflictions out of love for God and accept them with spiritual joy. It would be impossible to put the three grades of patience into practice if we were to try to do it without God’s assistance.

January 13, 2018

The Difficulties That Arise After Years of Marriage

Last week, I wrote about a couple who was having financial problems because of the husband’s inability to work. Here’s what I wrote at the end of the article:
I’ve been a lawyer for more than 35 years. I’ve dealt with hundreds of couples who, after years of marriage, are facing an unexpected crisis. You would think that after being married for 20 or more years, married couples would be more patient and forgiving of each other than they were when they were newly married. But that’s usually not the case. The fact that they’ve spent years together seems to somehow inhibit their ability to practice real patience and forgiveness toward each other.

Instead of being patient and forgiving, they’re extremely frustrated and angry with each other. Why?

When couples get married, there’s always great hope for the future. With that hope comes the expectation that they will be able to work out all their problems. There is also an expectation that they will someday be able to overcome whatever bad habits or deficiencies they have.

Unfortunately, as each year passes, nothing really changes. Husbands and wives stop making the effort that is required to please each other. It’s almost as if they’ve been through too much together. They’re worn out and exhausted. They’ve run out of patience.

I’ve written before about a saying that is common in the business world: “Familiarity breeds contempt.” This saying stands for the proposition that the more familiar you are with a person, the more contemptible that person becomes.

Over time, as people in the business world become more familiar with each other, their defects and weaknesses become more evident. They are exposed to and become tired of each other’s excuses, bad habits, broken promises, lack of respect, mood swings, angry outbursts, and lack of appreciation. Before long, their patience wears thin, and the slightest infraction causes them to treat each other with contempt.

January 6, 2018

Something Married Couples Face After Years of Marriage

Last week, I had an appointment with a man — I’ll call him Jim — who hired me eight months ago to represent him on a personal injury case. As usual, Jim brought his wife with him to the appointment. I’ve met with Jim and his wife on four occasions over the past eight months. Jim was injured when a large truck disregarded a stop sign and collided with his vehicle in the middle of an intersection. Because of his injuries, Jim has not been able to return to work. He’s been without an income for eight months.

Jim and his wife are in their late 30s. He’s a skilled tradesman who has been a member of a trade union for more than 20 years. Jim has never had any problem finding work, primarily because he is willing to travel to other states to work, when necessary. Since the accident, Jim’s financial situation has become progressively worse. He has had to borrow money to support his wife and children, and he also recently cashed in part of his retirement, so he could keep up with his bills.

Prior to the accident, Jim’s wife did not work outside the home. A few months after the accident, she felt that she had no other choice but to get a job, so she applied for and secured a job at a local business.

Each of the times I’ve met with Jim, he’s been upbeat and happy. He’s an intelligent, good-natured person who likes to talk and tell stories. His wife has come to all his appointments and has always been courteous and friendly — until last week.

Last week, when I entered the conference room to meet with them, Jim was the same as he’s always been, but his wife was quiet and had an angry look on her face. Her demeanor indicated to me that she and Jim either argued on the way to my office, or she was fed up with his situation.

I talked to Jim about his condition and he indicated to me that he was still receiving physical therapy three times a week. He said that he probably wasn’t going to be able to return to work for at least another 10 to 12 months. He told me that before the accident, he worked at the same trade for 20 years.

December 30, 2017

What Did Mary Really Know?

Every year during the Christmas Season, there are articles published that are critical of the song, Mary Did You Know. As expected, in early December, Fr. Robert McTeigue, SJ, published an article with the title, “The Problem With ‘Mary Did You Know.’” In the article, Fr. McTeigue criticized the following lyrics: “Did you know that your Baby Boy has come to make you new? This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you.”

Fr. McTeigue’s complaint was that the lyrics imply that Mary was a sinner who needed to be delivered from her sins. This is contrary to Catholic doctrine which states that Mary was preserved free from all stain of original sin from the moment of her immaculate conception, which allowed her to be a pure vessel in which the Son of God could be conceived and born without ever having come into contact with sin.

Another article that was published before Christmas stated that the song implies that Mary was not fully aware that she was the mother of God. The article went on to say that anyone who is familiar with the Bible knows that Mary possessed knowledge that she was the Mother of God, not only because of the Angel Gabriel’s announcement (Luke 1:26-56), but also because of her “song of praise” — known as “The Magnificat” — which indicated that she was aware of her role in the salvation of mankind. Here are the first two sentences of the Magnificat:

My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his handmaid. For behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed; for he who is mighty, has done great things for me and holy is his name. (Luke 1:46-49)

Whenever I read anything about the life of Mary, I think about a book that I read in the early 1980s, while I was in law school. The title of the book was, The Life of The Blessed Virgin Mary. The content for the book was taken from the recorded visions of the well-known 19th-century Catholic mystic, Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774 – 1824).

January 27, 2018

Why is That Church in a Music Video?

I’ve written before about how I was involved in music during my high school and college years. When I was a senior in high school, I formed a barbershop quartet with three of my friends. I did the same thing in college. While my high school quartet had a limited number of performances, my college quartet performed at several community functions and events.

I’ve always been a big fan of quartets and other a cappella groups. One of the groups that I currently pay attention to is Home Free, an American a cappella singing group that consists of five young men. Home Free got its big break in 2013, when it won a competition on the NBC television show, The Sing-Off. The grand prize that year was $100,000, plus a recording contract with Sony.

Last month, Home Free performed at the Peoria Civic Center. Georgette and I attended the show with some friends. My favorite Home Free song is How Great Thou Art. The music video of the song is posted on YouTube. The video has generated more than 13 million views.

In the video, the group is standing on a hill that is surrounded by several hundred acres of land. The scenery in the background includes cascading slopes and mountains. The beautiful harmony of the group is matched by the gorgeous land that surrounds them. The only building in the video is a small country church, which shows up in a field near the end of the video.

I have the video saved on an iPad that sits on a stand on my bathroom counter. Ordinarily, when I’m in the bathroom in the morning getting ready for work, I use the iPad to play educational, self-improvement, or religious recordings. In the evening while I’m getting ready for bed, I usually use the iPad to listen to music.

My son, Harry, and his wife Kathryn live about five minutes away from where my wife and I live. Because they live so close to us, they’re able to stop by our house to visit on a regular basis. Whenever they stop by for a visit, their two oldest sons, Harry and Liam, immediately start looking around the house for me. Harry is 5 years old and Liam is 3 years old.

November 18, 2017

Thank God I’m a Catholic Boy

In March 1975, during my senior year in high school, country music singer John Denver released a new single record with the song, Thank God I’m a Country Boy. That year, only six songs made it to the top of both the Billboard Hot Country Singles Charts and the Billboard Hot 100.

At that time, the Billboard Hot 100 included the week’s most popular songs across all genres. Rankings were based on record sales, radio airplay, and jukebox activity.

To this day, whenever I hear Thank God I’m a Country Boy, my spirits are lifted and I feel grateful for what I have.

There’s a video on YouTube of a 1977 TV special, where John Denver performed the song with a backup group that was made up of three additional great country music performers: Johnny Cash, playing the guitar; Roger Miller, playing the fiddle; and Glen Campbell, playing the banjo.

In the area below the YouTube video is a comment from one of Denver’s fans: “I wish I had a time machine, so I could go back and be there.” Most people who were teenagers during the 1970s (including me) would love to go back and “be there” for a performance of their favorite musician.

Denver’s Thank God I’m a Country Boy came to my mind last week when I realized that Thanksgiving Day was right around the corner.

While it’s good that we have a day set aside each year to reflect and be thankful for everything that we have, one day a year is not enough. Unfortunately, most of us are so busy that it’s easy to go several days without consciously giving thanks for what we have.

If you’re familiar with Thank God I’m a Country Boy, you’ll recognize a refrain that’s repeated throughout the song:

Well, I got me a fine wife, I got me old fiddle
When the sun’s comin’ up I got cakes on the griddle
Life ain’t nothin’ but a funny, funny riddle
Thank God I’m a country boy

June 10, 2017

Is Getting Drunk a Mortal Sin?

On a Saturday evening during the summer of 2001, my three college-age children invited several of their friends over at our house for a party. They started the evening in the kitchen eating pizza and then moved the party downstairs to our family room.

The friends were from two large local Catholic families. Georgette and I were friends with their parents, so later in the evening, the parents stopped by our house to join the party. I stayed upstairs until I finished a project I was working on. I ended up going downstairs at around 12:30 a.m.

When I joined the party, there was a lively discussion going on between the parents and the children. They had gone back and forth, giving their opinions about whether they thought it was a mortal sin to get drunk. By the time I arrived, they had all agreed that although it was sinful to drink to excess, the sin did not rise to the level of a mortal sin.

When I entered the room, one of the parents filled me in about what was going on and asked what I thought. I responded by saying, “Of course it’s a mortal sin!”

I explained that when people drink to excess, they deprive themselves of the ability to think and behave rationally. Because they have given up their ability to think and behave rationally, they become a danger to themselves and to the other people they come into contact with.

While my children and our friends agreed with me that people who drink too much lose their ability to think and behave rationally, they refused to agree with me that getting drunk is a mortal sin. They insisted that I back up my position with proof.

All I could tell them was that when I was a senior in college, I read several books about the Catholic faith. One of the books stated that getting drunk was a mortal sin. I told them that the book was written during the 1950s, before the “anything goes” culture of the 1960s changed the way a lot of Americans viewed sex, drugs, and alcohol.

July 2, 2016

Is Donald Trump A Christian?

Trump_PopeI had planned on refraining from writing anything about Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton because I felt that there was really nothing I could add to what’s already available on hundreds of websites. But I ran across an article last week that revealed some information that I haven’t seen anywhere else, and I figured you probably haven’t seen it either.

The article I’m referring to was written by Rod Martin and was posted on his website at RodMartin.org. On his website, Martin is described as “a technology entrepreneur, futurist, hedge fund manager, thought leader, and activist from Destin, Florida.” He’s also a devout Christian.

In his article, Martin discussed his ongoing skepticism of Trump. He expressed some of the same doubts that most of us have when it comes to Trump. Those doubts included Trump’s lack of moral character and his previous positions concerning abortion and other moral issues that are important to Christians.

Despite his skepticism, Martin admitted that his views of Trump changed somewhat after he attended a recent evangelical conference that Trump participated in. Martin said that he attended the largest meeting at the conference, in which almost 1,000 people participated. Trump was at the meeting and spoke about several issues that were important to evangelical Christians.

According to Martin, Trump talked about the importance of selecting and appointing judges who will adhere to the U.S. Constitution and the principles upon which our nation was built. Trump also spent a lot of time talking about the Johnson Amendment, which is something most people and most candidates don’t know anything about.

Trump knew what he was doing, because the Johnson Amendment is extremely important to devout evangelicals. The Johnson Amendment (named after then-Senator Lyndon B. Johnson) was passed by Congress in 1954. It added a provision to the U.S. tax code that prohibits tax-exempt organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates.

January 16, 2016

A Trip Into The Shark Tank

Shark TankI’ve written before about Shark Tank, the television series that premiered on ABC in August, 2009. The show which is currently in its 7th season, features business owners who make presentations to five potential investors. The investors are referred to as “sharks.” Each of the sharks is an experienced entrepreneur who became wealthy by successfully starting and growing multiple businesses.

During each show, business owners make presentations to the sharks in an attempt to persuade one or more of them to invest in the business in exchange for an equity share in the business. After a business owner gives a presentation, each investor has an opportunity to ask questions and make comments. Most of the time, the investors refuse to invest in the business by declaring “I’m out.”

The only time that I’m usually able to set aside time to watch Shark Tank is when I’m exercising or when I take a break at work to have something to eat. I recently watched an episode that originally aired in 2014. The person who made the presentation to the sharks was Talia Goldfarb, the founder and owner of Myself Belts. Talia’s business manufactures and sells colorful, easy-to-use belts for children.

Talia reported to the sharks that she had been in business for ten years. After being questioned by the sharks, she revealed that during the previous three years, there had been a decline in total sales revenue. During the previous year, her total sales were $205,000. When Talia was asked why her sales were declining, she said

During the last three years we’ve had a slight decline because we sell online and also mainly through independent boutiques. When the recession hit, we found a lot of our boutiques were struggling. They really were being more conservative. Even a big catalog we were in went bankrupt. I didn’t want to be wasting my money and spinning my wheels knocking on people’s doors who did not want to take anyone’s call. We decided to kind of put a pause and to focus online, and to weather out the storm.

March 14, 2015

A Banker Responds to My Novena

BankDuring the first three years of my law practice (1983 to 1986), I rented an office from some other attorneys. In addition to the use of an office, I was allowed to use the other attorneys’ receptionist to answer a separate telephone line that I had set up in the reception area. My agreement also included an arrangement in which I was able to use one of the secretaries to prepare legal documents. She kept track of the time she spent doing my work, and I paid an agreed-upon hourly rate to the attorneys for her services.

I moved out of the attorneys’ office and rented my own small office suite in the fall of 1986. At that time, I hired my own part-time secretary. About a year later, my part-time secretary started working for me on a full-time basis.

Because I was responsible for paying for my own office, a full-time secretary, and other office-related expenses, I quickly fell behind on my bills. After struggling financially for several months, I began a 30-day novena to St. Joseph. During the novena, I asked St. Joseph to increase my business so I could get caught up on my bills.

Shortly after I finished the novena, I received a telephone call from a local banker whom I had previously assisted with some legal work. The work I had done for him involved collecting money from bank customers who were behind in their credit card payments.

When I got on the phone with the banker, he told me that he had recently been hired by another bank and was in charge of refinancing previous home loans and loaning money to first-time home buyers.

The banker asked if I had ever considered performing title searches and issuing title insurance policies through Attorneys’ Title Guaranty Fund. I told him that I was familiar with Attorneys’ Title, but had never given any serious thought to getting involved with that type of work.

February 28, 2015

A Ritual Worth Considering

ritual-de-havanaLast week, one of my clients asked me if I would say some prayers for her and her family. For the purpose of this article, I’m going to call her “Julie.” After asking for prayers, Julie said that she’s been having problems at home with her teenage daughters.

I’ve known Julie for more than 20 years. She’s a committed Catholic who is devoted to her husband and children. When Julie asked for prayers, I replied that I would be happy to include her family in my prayers. I then asked her a question that I have periodically asked her over the years: “Are you praying your rosary every day?” When I asked the question, she hesitated. I knew from the expression on her face what she was going to say. She was going to make an excuse — the same thing 95% of all other Catholics do when I ask that question.

I’m not going to tell you what excuse Julie used, because it doesn’t matter. One excuse is the same as any other. We all have our own excuses for our failure to remain faithful to an active and vibrant daily prayer life.

I did not criticize or ridicule Julie for her failure to do what she knows she should be doing. I did, however, talk to her about the importance of developing daily rituals concerning prayer.

One of the definitions that the dictionary provides for “ritual” is “an act or series of acts done in a particular situation and in the same way each time.” The word “ritual” is ordinarily used in the context of religion, but there are other social customs and protocols that can be described as rituals. Most of our daily behavioral habits eventually become rituals. Examples of daily rituals include shaving every morning and drinking coffee at the same time every day.

I told Julie that if she developed the habit of praying her rosary every morning while she was in her car on the way to work, over time she would see some improvement in her relationship with her daughters. She admitted that she was in the habit of listening to the radio when she was in her car and declared that she could easily develop the habit of praying her rosary instead. In addition to a daily rosary, I also suggested that Julie start setting aside one-on-one time each week with each of her daughters to do something that is fun and/or relaxing.

February 21, 2015

Trash Compactors and Depression

Walls Closing InOn a Friday evening in June 1977, while I was in the family room of my parents’ home, the evening news came on the television. The news opened with a teaser announcement about a movie that had recently been released that was surprising all of the critics and was wildly popular among viewers. Of course, if we wanted to know what that movie was, we had to sit through 20 minutes of the news before the newscaster would tell us about the movie.

At that time, I was 20 years old and had recently finished my second year in college. After the announcement about the new movie, one of my younger brothers asked me if I knew what movie the announcer was talking about. I told him that I had no idea. My brother asked, “Do you think it’s Rocky?” I replied that I did not think that it could be Rocky because although the movie about the rise of a small-time boxer was extremely popular, it had been released in late 1976 and had already run its course.

We hung around the family room and waited for the story about the movie. At that time there was no Internet so the only way to learn about newly released movies was from network television, the print media, or by word of mouth. It turned out that the movie was Star Wars, a science fiction film that had been released by 20th Century Fox on May 25, 1977. In addition to discussing the main characters, the news story also showed clips from the movie and talked about the popularity of the “droids,” C-3PO and R2-D2.

Within a week of seeing the story about Star Wars, I went to the theater to see the movie with a couple of my friends. At one point in the movie, to escape from enemy fire, the main characters, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Hans Solo, and Chewbacca, duck into a room-sized trash compactor. After discovering that they are trapped, the enemy activates the mechanical system that causes the walls of the compactor to close in on and crush all the trash that is in the compactor.

August 23, 2014

A Different Perspective on the Robin Williams Suicide

Robin WilliamsAfter the recent suicide of the famous American actor and comedian Robin Williams, various reasons were given to explain why he killed himself. Some of the reasons included the fact that he had recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, suffered from severe depression, and was having money problems. For whatever reason, at the age of 63, Williams ended his life after determining that he was better off dead than alive.

To put Robin Williams’ suffering into perspective, I would like you to consider another “old man” who despite enduring immense suffering refused to give up. His name was Alphonsus Liguori, a Catholic saint who during the prime of his life was a well-known and respected Catholic bishop, theologian, and scholastic philosopher. During his lifetime, St. Alphonsus wrote several books, including The Glories of Mary, The Way of Salvation, The True Spouse of Christ, and Sermons for All the Sundays in the Year.

In 1767, at the age of 71, suffering from rheumatism, St. Alphonsus became so crippled that he had to be confined to a wheelchair. His neck was so weak that he was unable to hold up his head. Because of the weight of his head, his chin constantly rubbed against his chest, causing his skin to become raw.

In addition to his physical suffering, St. Alphonsus was publicly humiliated and removed from his order after it was shown that he had signed a religious document that was contrary to the teachings of the Church. The signing of the document was a mistake in judgment and was due in part to the fact that St. Alphonsus’ condition had deteriorated to such an extent that he was almost completely blind.

He had trouble reading anything, and when he was asked to approve the document, St. Alphonsus struggled to read the first page. After he read several lines and found nothing that was objectionable, he verified the authenticity of the document by signing it. He trusted the person who asked him to sign the document. He subsequently paid a heavy price for that trust.

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