Saturday, January 24, 2004

Latest on Father Groeschel

He will have surgery again today at 10 a.m.

From Father Glenn:

"Critical but stable" continues to be the official designation given to Father Benedict's condition. Doctors and nurses are still using words like "fragile", "guarded", and "cautious"; yet it appears the deep dark night is softening on the far horizon. A lip of light is detected in the distance. While still deep in the woods, Fr. Benedict presses on to recovery.

Today, the friars reported that Father appears calmer; most certainly his eyes are now wide opened and his face is relaxed. When our newly ordained Fr. Sylvester told Father that he had assisted the local parish in hearing "first confessions" for the first time Father raised both eyebrows, as if to say, "isn't it wonderful!" It's not exactly a smile, but that will come, that will come!

Behind Father's confusion and immobility is a keen intelligence. Fr. John and the friars make sure they introduce all the medical personnel who come into his room. I have no doubt that by now he both recognizes them and remembers their name. Being an articulate communicator by nature, no doubt his inability to be understood is frustrating. I suggested to the brothers that they find a person adept in lip reading to help. He has mouthed the phrase, "what happened?" more than once. An inquisitive and intelligent person would especially be distressed at not being able to put the pieces together. Be patient, Father!

Today Father had two special visitors, the first being the Ordinary of the diocese who Father recognized - again the raising of the eyebrows. Yet, the second visitor was accompanied by a tender affectionate gaze - his sister, Marjule. Father was evidently consoled having his "baby sister" at his bedside. The friars quietly slipped out of the room and closed the sliding glass door allowing them some private time together. He looked after Marjule when she was a child. In some way, the roles are now reversed. Marjule asked me to thank you for your prayers. With a brother like Father Benedict, you have a good idea what a wonderful person she is. Marjule will be spending the week close to her brother, so we should expect even greater progress in his recovery.

On some practical or technical note: Father was placed in a new high-tech bed, which is programmed to slowly move this way and that. I believe this helps in the patient's general circulation of blood. They also wheeled in a huge X-Ray machine, which beeped and buzzed and did its thing. It appears that the shoulder was not only dislocated but may have a slight fracture, which is painful but obviously not life- threatening. Also, tomorrow, our well-known and highly acclaimed orthopedic surgeon will be attending to Father's right elbow. An elbow replacement might be in order. Father will be wheeled downstairs to the operating room. The first operation was made right in the ICU because of Father's precarious condition. So, this too is another hopeful sign. The operation is scheduled for 10 am Saturday morning. So while the doctors and assistants are working on Father's elbow, let us "work" on our knees. Please, keep praying. Keep praying.

Near Father's bedside is a small table. On the table are a few objects worthy of devotion; a small relic of the true cross, a relic of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and a crucifix used by the Servant of God, Terence Cardinal Cooke, the former archbishop of New York. The New Testament speaks of oil and Saint Paul's handkerchiefs used to heal the sick. Scripture attests even his passing shadow healed people! Well, while we all know that all healing comes from God Himself, He uses many means, many instruments to bring His mercy to our misery. God uses everyone and everything - skilled physicians, caring nurses, competent therapists, and even large metal machines that beep and buzz. In every way He seeks to slip His invisible and invincible hand into our time and space in order to touch us and make us whole.