They were visitors in our worship service and, like all visitors in a small church, they were not hard to spot. I could see from the looks on their faces that whatever they were looking for in a church, we didn’t have it. When we all stood to sing the hymns, they just looked straight ahead, never making an effort to sing and not even picking up a hymnbook.
During the day, her mother’s confusion was manageable, more or less.
They would wake up, have their tea and toast and walk around the house,
noticing which flowers were waxing and which were waning. After their
mid-morning nap, they would have lunch and then settle into a long game
of cards or—her mother’s favorite—dominoes.
This summer, my divinity-student wife is doing a unit of clinical pastoral education.
As someone without any pastoral care experience, I’ve been fascinated
to hear about the scenarios (real and hypothetical) that come up in
CPE-related conversations. For instance, a classic: Would you baptize a
Michael Bransfield, Catholic bishop of West Virginia, seems to be taking his cues from the coal industry when interpreting Pope Francis’s recent encyclical Laudato si’, which calls for an end to the use of fossil fuels. Bransfield says the pope’s call for ending fossil fuel use is qualified: it should happen “only after” greater progress is made in using alternative fuels, and only where economically feasible. In fact, Pope Francis makes no such qualifications. Bransfield is also promoting the idea of “clean coal.” A spokesperson admitted that the Wheeling-Charleston diocese has “energy related investments” (National Catholic Reporter, July 1).