I lost my mother unexpectedly last November, after having lost my father after a long illness eight years earlier. My siblings and I suddenly found ourselves “orphans” as we marked our first Thanksgiving and Christmas without either of our parents. Now we are anticipating our first Mother’s Day without Mom.
In the past few weeks I’ve been asked to speak about loneliness in the elderly on numerous occasions. I was even quoted in a recent article by Catholic journalist Mary Rezac, entitled Our Elders Are Lonely — Do We Care? As we look forward to Christmas, let’s hope we can all say, “Of course we do!”
Each October we observe Respect Life Month in dioceses throughout the United States. Although ending abortion remains a priority of the utmost importance, threats to the disabled and those at the end of life deserve our attention as well. The legalization of medically assisted suicide in Canada in June should serve as a wake-up call compelling us to reach out in solidarity to our most vulnerable brothers and sisters.
Each year since 2012, Catholics in the United States have observed the Fortnight for Freedom in preparation for Independence Day on July 4th. The theme set by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for this year’s Fortnight is “Witnesses to Freedom.”
Fourteen men and women who bear witness to freedom in Christ — one for each day — have been proposed for our reflection during these two weeks. Thirteen of these figures have already passed from this world into heaven and the majority of them are martyrs. The lone “person” who is still alive? The Little Sisters of the Poor!
We Little Sisters spend our lives caring for the elderly, but I try to keep up with young people as much as I can. Last week I read a blog for young women about the impact of our throw-away culture on the quality of personal relationships. The more we move around, according to a recent study, the more likely we are to develop attitudes of disposability toward our material possessions — and we also come to perceive relationships in the same way.
Each year British retailer John Lewis creates a seasonal buzz with its creative, emotionally charged Christmas advertisements. This year the department store chain has teamed with Age UK, Great Britain's largest charity for senior citizens, to raise funds and awareness of the scourge of loneliness among the elderly today. The heart-wrenching commercial depicts a young girl reaching out to an elderly "man on the Moon" and ends with a simple yet haunting slogan: "No one should have no one at Christmas."