Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry,” is a line in “To a Mouse” from poet Robert Burns. I have often been asked who writes my LOA (LOVE ONE ANOTHER). I quickly respond, “I do.” Do you honestly think that any self-respecting ghostwriter would put their craftsmanship to these weekly presentations?
My weekly LOA is usually created on a Sunday night or Monday evening, which gives me time to reflect on the week’s past events or situations, focusing on either local or national interests. All of life is a teaching moment. And, as I have said before, God is speaking to us constantly. It’s a matter of applying our spiritual understanding to the happenings that surround us.
I live pretty much a daily routine: prayer in the morning (Mass, unless celebrated during the day), exercise on the stationary bike for 30-35 minutes, and then breakfast: oatmeal with honey, blueberries and 21 almonds (not 22 or 20, but 21). My routine can be interrupted from time to time due to the necessity of scheduling meetings or trips out of the archdiocese, but those are included in the planning.
This past Tuesday, there was no LOA, as you may well know, regardless of it being a priority in my routine. I feel writing this weekly reflection connects me to many of you, my friends, as I get to share my thoughts about the daily struggles of living our faith.
That being said, the absence of the LOA should indicate that something serious interrupted my routine. Last Wednesday night, I started to experience abdomen pains. I recognized these pains because, in the past, they have occurred because of generating gall bladder stones. Now, the normal procedure and remedy is to remove the gall bladder, and that usually corrects the problem. In 1990, my gall bladder was removed. However, I still generate stones. When they build up in my system, they cause discomfort, but the pain usually passes in about a half an hour, and I can continue my routine. However, if they block those internal ducts, they have to be removed by a gastrointestinal (GI) doctor. The discomfort from last Wednesday night continued into the weekend, and by Monday, it was problematic. My personal GI doctor was visiting family in Pakistan, so his office urged me to go to the emergency department at Froedtert Hospital. The difficulty is that the symptoms caused by stones mimic other problems: heart problems, cancer, etc. Therefore, various tests must be performed in order to assure that it is the stones.
They scheduled me for the stone removal through a procedure called an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), which necessitates going into those ducts and removing the stones. This was done on Tuesday. On Wednesday, I was encouraged to rest for recovery, and then I was sent home.
Plans, especially routines, change instantly when it comes to one’s physical well-being. Many of us enjoy relatively good health, and so we are not always aware of our bodily dispositions. But, when our health is in jeopardy, all routines and plans fall by the wayside.
Generating stones without a gall bladder is my superpower. I would gladly trade it for six winning lottery numbers, but we must settle for what’s given to us. If anyone is in need of stones, I would gladly share.
Our spiritual life is experienced in somewhat the same manner. We have a spiritual routine that we develop. This is good. It gives us a certain stability, but we must never be complacent, because we never know when God will make a demand on us, and our routine must stop to address ultimate questions. The lesson for us is that we belong to God, and our lives can change in an instant. We are always operating in God’s time. So, I apologize for this week’s LOA being late, but remember, my friends, it’s never too early or too late to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Note: This blog originally appeared as the February 21, 2019 "Love One Another" email sent to Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. If you are interested in signing up for these email messages, please click here.