This is a page that focuses on religious and theological issues, as well as providing comprehensive teaching from a classic Catholic perspective. As you read the articles, it is my hope they will educate and bless you.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Talking About Hell

Recently, there was a discussion on a Facebook forum about whether or not it is essential to mention hell when talking to a non-believer, and that got me thinking personally on the subject.  So, today's talk is a little different - it is not a teaching, a devotional, and definitely not a discourse on hell, but rather just a sharing of some thoughts.  I hope this can be of help to someone, and if so, feel free to use the material.

When I was around 6 years old, the First Baptist Church in my hometown of Parsons, WV, showed a film entitled The Burning Hell.  Originally filmed in 1975 I believe by an independent Baptist evangelist in Mississippi, Rev. Estus Pirkle, it was a graphically realistic film that was designed to more or less alert sinners to the possibility of eternal damnation if they didn't accept Christ as Savior.   The message in the film is Biblical and sound, but when Mom made me go see that as a child, I had nightmares about it for weeks.  You see, growing up in a very conservative Holiness/Pentecostal environment in rural West Virginia, it must be understood that religion is a little more strict and high-test than it would be in a similar church setting elsewhere, and although one of the strengths of that is that it produces a well-grounded and staunch faith unfortunately the downside of it is that it can also lead to a faith based on legalism and fear.   Hell, the Second Coming, and sin were three subjects that were taught extensively in mountain churches when I was growing up, and although this is not a problem in itself, often the other side of the story - namely, the love of Christ, joy in the Spirit, etc. - was not emphasized as much.  My own mother, as a matter of fact, once came to Christ not out of a desire to know Him as her Savior, but out of fear, and the weak foundation of her conversion later caused her to backslide miserably.  Even in my early Christian walk, I served God more out of fear than out of joy and love, and it took several years for me to understand there was more to Christianity than just the negative, and when I did, then I became stronger in my own convictions about the reality of hell, but with a difference - this time, I was seeing in retrospection, and I saw Christ delivered me from that awful place, and it became a source of joy.  I have never wavered in my convictions - hell is a very real place, and a very real danger for someone who doesn't accept by faith the grace God offered through the Blood of His Son, Jesus Christ - and in a way I have become a more staunch defender of them.  However, if I could have chosen to come to Jesus differently, I think I would have preferred it if someone had grounded me in a more balanced way.  That being said, let's talk about witnessing a little.

Many Protestant Evangelicals for years have relied upon vocal, direct witnessing for bringing converts to our faith, and it has been viewed as an acceptable practice in which a lot of time and resources have been invested.   However, as I have grown personally in faith and also after becoming part of a more liturgical/sacramental expression of Christianity, I began to see that this approach might not have exactly been the best thing, and it doesn't seem to have Biblical precedent.   Personal evangelism is vital and needed, no doubt, but an important factor has been left out of the equation, and that is the Holy Spirit.  When I accepted Christ as my Savior and became born again at age 16, for instance, it was the Holy Spirit that led me to my pastor, and he led me to Christ at the altar of the church.  There was no knocking on doors, tracts, or "sinner's prayers" involved in my conversion.  And, over the years, I have come to realize that the most effective conversions are those where the Holy Spirit is preparing the hearts and minds of a person to receive Christ, and if that be the case, they will come looking for that.   If you are the vessel God uses, then that is where true evangelism starts.  The Gospel is not to be hawked door-to-door like a peddler's gadget, and it is not to be advertised like a Billy Mays project either - the Gospel and its seed are sown in ground that has been prepared to receive it, and only then can an effective witness and evangelism take place.  A lot of churches could save a lot of money if they would just let the Holy Spirit draw the people to them instead of trying to do it with futile efforts.  It may not bring great numbers, but the people it does bring to Christ will be people who will joyfully receive Him.  Something to think about the next time your church tries a big soul-winning workshop!

That being said, back to the subject of hell.  Is it appropriate to bring up hell when you are actually witnessing in this way to a person wanting to come to Christ?  I would say yes, but again, we must be led of the Holy Spirit to present it to them.  Hell is not a pleasant subject, and it is not something that Christians need to be throwing around casually either.  Hell is a serious topic, and the idea is to keep someone from going there, and sometimes talking too soon or too much about it scares them away and is counterproductive.  That is what the Holy Spirit is for.  The Holy Spirit, not us, is who convicts a person of sin.  And, the Holy Spirit is the one who opens the ears and hearts of a person to receive the Gospel.  And, if that desire is strong in the seeking person wanting to know the Lord, the subject of hell will come up somewhere, I guarantee it.  Thing is, usually it will be the person themselves that brings up the subject, and our duty as Christians is to be informed about it enough to tell them the truth.  This is true especially in dealing with children who feel led to be born again, and with them in particular we need to be especially sensitive to the Spirit.  Little kids, for instance, don't need to see movies like The Burning Hell, and even some adults may not be prepared for something that bold either.  However, what is interesting is that teens are often responsive to more blunt discussions like this, as they have been immersed in many cases in a culture of rock music and slasher films that glorify hell and Satan, and thus that presents an opportunity to show them that as Christians, hell and Satan are indeed real, and also not something that should be glorified in popular culture as it often is.   Adults too are varied in how they respond - some take the delicate touch of a neurosurgeon, while others are more "in your face" and can have a more bolder witness on the subject.  Again though, the Holy Spirit is always the determining factor in the way the subject is to be approached, and exercising good discernment is vital; a person's eternal soul could depend on that.

Regarding the Facebook discussion, a fellow named Greg mentioned that the actual purpose of the Gospel is reconciliation, and he was quite correct.  We don't come to Christ to be merely saved from hellfire, although that is definitely an important component.  The primary reason God sent his only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the Cross for us is quite simple - He died in order for us to be reconciled to the Father, and to break the separation that original sin imposed upon humanity.  In other words salvation is restorative, not just redemptive, in focus.  If we were merely just saved from hell, then we would not grow spiritually nor would we need the joy and peace Christ gives.  Also, God does not send people to hell, nor does he will for us to go there - as a matter of fact, originally hell was created as a solitary confinement for Satan and the fallen angels and their demonic charges, and not for man.  However, we choose the consequence of hell and eternal damnation if we reject what God wants to give us, which is eternity with Him as He originally intended for us to be in the first place.  Also, I want to clear up another misconception - it must be understood that God does not need us!  Before the stones start to fly, let me explain that - God doesn't need us, yet He desires us because He loves us and we are made in His image.   When a person dies in their sins without knowing Christ, it breaks the Lord's heart - I believe He weeps over that as the person is created in His image and thus a loss of such a great treasure as a human life eternally is a tremendous blow to the Lord.   Christ deals with us as individuals, and does take an interest in us personally because He loves each and every one of us.  However, He also is a perfect gentleman, and will not force His will on us;  that is why we choose to follow Jesus and to receive by faith the precious gift of His ultimate grace - His very life! - to redeem and restore us.  And, that is what the Gospel is all about.

For those that say hell is not part of presenting the Gospel to others, I want to point you to Romans 3:23 - it says the wages of sin is death!  Now, you may say that does not directly refer to hell, and no, it does not.  As a matter of fact, common sense will tell you that most sinful activities, if they are not stopped, can kill you.  However, I also want to refer you to Revelation 20:14 - this is a verse about the Final Great White Throne Judgement, and states the fate of the unrighteous dead.  What it says is this in the second part of the verse - "Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire.  This is the second death."  This earthly body will die, yes, and sin often accelerates the process.  However, let us also remember that our temporal death is only part of the story - we have an eternal soul and spirit.  And, it has to go somewhere!  If we are in Christ, that means eternal life in the presence of Christ in heaven, but if we die in our sins, it means hell.  Hell is the lake of fire, and it is like death to the soul although not in a literal sense.    And, it must be understood that the dread of hell is not in the literal lake of fire (and I do believe it is a literal place, although that is another subject entirely - for more on that, read Perry Stone's Secrets From Beyond the Grave, as it will be an eye-opener!).  Related to this, we must also understand that we are a creature in which an important principal applies - our choices do have consequences!  Choices are just that - choices.  We make them everyday, and with every one a chain of reaction results as a consequence.  Choices can be good or bad, and bad choices do have bad consequences - for instance, it is a bad choice to stick your finger in a live light socket, and the consequence is that you will be electrocuted.  However, let us ask this - if a light socket was an important element to mention in educating someone ignorant about electricity, would you not warn them of the dangers of handling it wrongly?   It is not something you have to think about, but rather just a safety measure that could save a life.   Same way when approaching hell - hell is the consequence of a bad choice, a choice we have the freedom to make but a bad one nonetheless.   Therefore, it is important that it comes up somewhere in the conversation.   Now, ideally, if a person is led to you in order to find Christ and His salvation, sooner or later in that conversation they are going to bring up the subject.  So, do we just skirt it?  NO!!  God is a God of integrity, and He wants His truth to be shared openly for those seeking it.  Therefore, an informed and Spirit-led response regarding hell is something we need to prepare ourselves for - II Timothy 2:15 tells us to "study to show ourselves approved," and this is a good example of why the Apostle instructed his young minister St. Timothy to do so.  That being said, hell is an aspect of the Gospel message - it is not the central aspect, but it is important.  To avoid it, even when the inquirer asks about it, is unthinkable. 

A lot more could be said on this subject, but I feel this gives a basic position on the issue.  Therefore, next time someone approaches you and wants to know about Christianity or how to become a Christian, it is important to understand the Holy Spirit sent them to you to reach them, and you need to be open to the Holy Spirit to do that.  And, we need to present our faith honestly and truthfully to them, even seemingly unpleasant thoughts such as sin and hell.  If we do that, a life could be eternally saved.  God bless and be with you this week.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Foot-Washing - a Forgotten Practice in Christianity

The practice of footwashing is something that today is only observed by a few groups - some conservative Holiness/Pentecostals, some groups of old-time Baptists, and the Old German Baptist Brethren are among some who do still actively practice it - and at certain times of the year in some of our liturgical/sacramental churches (it is traditionally observed on Maundy Thursday during Holy Week).  It is also one of those practices that makes many uncomfortable, and I am one of those who feels like that - no one, aside from my wife or a doctor if it's deemed absolutely necessary, ever sees my unshod feet.  It is actually kind of embarrassing for me.  So, this is a study that I feel is needed, and it goes against some of my personal feelings on the issue, but it is also something I feel adds a rich dimension to our spirituality that we also have lost over many generations, and perhaps it is something worth considering to bring back into the worship of the Church again.  Therefore, although I personally feel embarrassment at showing bare feet to anyone,  it is important to get past personal quirks and see value in some ancient practices. 

This practice has a Biblical precedent that is found in John 13:1-17, and it is connected to the Eucharist and the Agape Feast in traditional Christian practice.  The idea of washing another's feet, as well as receiving the blessing, is to demonstrate humility and service to our brethren in faith, citing Jesus' example.   Some churches, such as the Free Will Baptist groups, treat it as an ordinance, while others such as the Old German Baptists (Old-Order Dunkards) observe it as an integral part of the Agape Feast, along with the "holy kiss."  The purpose, therefore, is to build and strengthen bonds and fellowship among Christians, and in every context I have studied this in regard to different church traditions, every one of them agree that the ordinance of feet-washing is to be practiced only among those "of like precious faith."   In other words, it has sacramental significance.  Also, the fact that such a practice demonstrates humility also promotes an environment of extending and receiving forgiveness among fellow Christians - a person cannot wash the feet of another that he hates or is in conflict with obviously, which is also the reason why many churches who practice it also institute it before receiving Communion.  It seems to also be practiced in smaller, more closely-knit fellowships too, which is also practical - although it is possible to do this in a large church setting, it would also be cumbersome too.  Then again though, I have become more of a proponent of smaller, more tightly-knit congregations in recent years instead of the huge megachurches, which are often more about numerical growth than spiritual development (that also explains a lot of the entertainment spirit, carnality, and lack of fellowship one finds in megachurches these days too - our priest at our parish, Fr. John Poole, addressed this well a few weeks back when he said that many churches lack the "community factor" today).  These same megachurches often don't follow the Bible as seriously as smaller churches either, meaning that passages like John 13 are often viewed by these people as allegorical, despite evidence to the contrary that the ancient Church practiced feet-washing as well, being it was also rooted in a Middle Eastern custom you still see practiced in many countries today.  Also, I think this whole self-centered interest regarding being "purpose-driven" and also the infection like a bad virus of a lot of pop psychology in Christian circles has denigrated an emphasis on teaching humility and servanthood, just like it has with teachings on sin, repentance, hell, and related subject matters.  Most pastors are too cowardly to even touch these subjects because it might diminish their membership rosters and also their pocketbooks if the offerings fall off.  That worldliness and compromise has cost Christianity much, and as a result we have churches full of baptized pagans who are so Biblically illiterate that it is shameful - yet, the pastors don't care because the member rolls are big and so are their bank accounts.  If these churches were to introduce footwashing or other practices, and if - GOD FORBID! - they spoke about sin and repentance, people would be charging for the doors.  Our carnal nature is scared of truth, and more pastors are about appeasing carnality than they are proclaiming truth, and Rick Warren and others are selling best-selling books tickling people's ears with this garbage.  Any rate, I digress, so I should get back on subject.

Angie Cheek, a contributor/editor to the Foxfire 40th Anniversary Book - Faith, Family, and the Land (Mountain City, GA:  The Foxfire Fund, 2006) says it better than I could on page 61, as she writes about the practice of footwashing among Appalachian Christian churches, when she writes "Those who would be great leaders must be willing servants."  I got this book recently, and being I have Appalachian roots myself and had heard of churches back home in West Virginia that practiced footwashing, I never though much of it, mostly because of my own quirkiness about exposing my own naked foot to anyone besides my wife.   But, the Foxfire book, as well as some things I have read recently about the ancient Amazigh Christian communities in North Africa that also practiced this as part of their faith centuries before, made me realize that there may be substance to this.  Therefore, I spent a couple of weeks looking more into it.  What I have found was interesting.  That being said, let us talk some about the practice itself.

A number of common things are noted when reading up on churches that still practice footwashing, be they old-time Appalachian Baptists or Old-Order Dunkards.  These include the following:

1.  It is always practiced in connection with Communion or the Eucharist

2.  It is sex-segregated - only men can wash men's feet, and women can wash women's.  To cite that, there is a quote by an old-time Baptist preacher, Rev. Ben Cook, in the Foxfire 40th book .  Rev. Cook, now deceased, was a veteran Southern Baptist preacher in the mountains of Rabun County, GA years ago who had to fight with the local Baptist association to get approval to observe footwashing in his church, but was eventually allowed to do so.  He says regarding the practice in his congregation, "We put the ladies on one side of the church and the men on the other.  The men wash the men's feet, and the women wash the women's feet."  (ibid. p. 63).

3.  Humility is a necessity in its practice also.  Esco Pitts, an old-time mountain Pentecostal Christian who although was limited in education had more wisdom in regard to this practice than many of the highly-educated theologians who try to explain it away. He says, "That humble spirit is the thing - not what you do but how humble your heart is.  It's not necessary to wash feet, but it is necessary to be humble to do it if it is necessary (ibid. p. 62).  The Old German Baptist Brethren hold a similar position as well, as is noted in their Doctrinal Treatise (Covington, OH: Vindicator Press, 1970 {3rd ed.}) on page 21:

The Christian virtues of faith, love, obedience, humility, service, and sacrifice are part of the foot-washing ordinance as exemplified by the Savior.  As we are to follow His example, they are the part that man complies with in order to receive the promised cleansing.  We cannot wash away sin by washing our brother's feet, but we can love him, and be of humble service to him, and sacrifice for him.  These are the visual lessons the Savior teaches through foot-washing.

Notice, in both of these vastly different Christian expressions, the same emphasis comes to light - humility!
Humility is sadly lacking in today's society, and that is unfortunately reflected in today's churches.  Many churches are so caught up in social programs, catering to "seekers,' and other such stuff that they often forget to be a cohesive Body among themselves as God intended them to be.  That is why old-time churches often have a family feel - practices like footwashing and the "holy kiss" solidify relationships, and the Church thus becomes the spiritual family it was meant to be.  Social programs, evangelism, and all the other programs many churches institute do have their place, and many benefits are in such things, but first and foremost there needs to be the forging, solidifying, and strengthening of bonds among the local body of believers before we can be a witness to anyone else. We as Christians are a spiritual family, after all, so we need to act like one.  Therefore, I see a merit for reviving the practice of footwashing - before people participate in the life of a church, they need to be fully reconciled to the brethren and be an integral part of the community with full fellowship.  If they are not, then they are strangers that can be used of Satan to destroy individual churches, and church strife is a major weapon in Satan's arsenal.  I say this especially to our liturgical/sacramental churches, because we often lose the essence of the depth of the Liturgy when we don't have genuine community amongst our people.  Catholic churches like mine should be some of the most enthusiastic to embrace these time-honored and Scriptural practices, yet we are often the most resistant to it.  Church, it must be noted, is more than just an hour on Sunday mornings; we as the Church are the Bride of Christ, and He wants His Bride to be spotless, free of rends and tears, and complete.  And, whether you agree with it or not, footwashing and other related practices are means to bring that about. 

Much more can be written on this subject, but essentially the value of a tangible act like footwashing is to teach us about fellowship and humility to our brethren, and Jesus Himself was the best example of that. Therefore, it may be in our best interest to revisit these subjects, for in them we could find what our churches are missing.  God bless and be with you all until my next visit with you.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Sacrament of Unction - Annointing of The Sick

This past week, a bit of tragic news came about my mother-in-law in Indiana that she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  After asking several of my friends to lift her up in prayer, one of my friends (also a distant relative) at the little Pentecostal church in my hometown of Hendricks, WV, offered to have a prayer cloth sent to her, and that got me thinking.  Prayer cloths are very scriptural, and the verse that sanctions their use can be found of course in Acts 19:11-12, where God used cloths to bring healing AND deliverance from evil spirits through prayer cloths that had been anointed.   For the past 100 or so years, prayer cloths have also been a part of Pentecostal churches and their devotional practices, and there is a reason why this practice was revived.  Granted, there are those who use these as talismans, or they make money off of them by deception, but that still doesn't take away their use and validity in the Body of Christ.  The Pentecostals do this of course as an act of faith - the word used is a "point of contact," and that too is part of Christian faith as well.  However, does this practice fit into sacramental/liturgical worship?  That is what we are going to discuss now.

Even a person with a basic knowledge of Catholic teaching knows that we have seven sacraments.  I personally prefer the Eastern Christian term mysteries, but the idea is the same - a visible sign of an inward grace granted by Divine mercy, and a truth that cannot be explained.   The seven Mysteries, or Sacraments, are as follows:

1.  Baptism
2. Chrismation (or Confirmation)
3. The Eucharist
4. Holy Matrimony
5. Holy Orders
6. Reconcilliation
7. Unction

The last one, called Holy Unction, is often wrongly assumed to be just the "Last Rites" for the dying, but in reality it entails a lot more.  It is a Mystery of the Church, and it has as its Scriptural foundation James 5:14-15, which in the KJV Bible says the following:

Is anyone among you sick?  Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.  And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up.  And if he has committed sins, he shall be forgiven.

These verses tell us what the real Mystery of Holy Unction is all about, and not only is this a Mystery of faith in sacramental/liturgical churches, but also it has been a part of Pentecostal prayer and devotional practice for decades.  Almost every Pentecostal denomination has a strong statement, based in part on this verse, supporting the Scriptural belief in divine healing.  Another verse this relates to as well is the one where it says "By His stripes we are healed" (I Peter 2:24).   Another connection made in the passage from James is that sickness and sin are both taken care of by this sacrament - how many of you saw that?   In other words, it is in the truest sense the "Full Gospel," in that through anointing in the name of the Lord with oil, sin and sickness are both forgiven and healed.  God wants for us to be reconciled fully to Him as His people, and this is the way He chose to initiate that.  Again, this is a practice going back to the earliest times of the Church, with this quote from St. Cyril of Jerusalem giving validity to the practice:

The oil of gladness with which Christ was anointed was a spiritual oil; it was in fact the Holy Spirit himself, who is called the oil of gladness because he is the source of spiritual joy. But we too have been anointed with oil, and by this anointing we have entered into fellowship with Christ and have received a share in his life. Beware of thinking that this holy oil is simply ordinary oil and nothing else. After the invocation of the Spirit it is no longer ordinary oil but the gift of Christ, and by the presence of his divinity it becomes the instrument through which we receive the Holy Spirit. While symbolically, on our foreheads and senses, our bodies are anointed with this oil that we see, our souls are sanctified by the holy and life-giving Spirit.  (see for the full text)

As St. Cyril wrote also, the anointing with oil also has a sanctifying aspect to it as well, meaning that it cleanses our sins and heals our bodies.  That is one reason why over the centuries it has almost exclusively come to be associated with the Last Rites in the Roman Church, as many people sought this sacrament just before they passed on in order to prepare them for reception into the hereafter.  However, it is not just for the deathbed, but for anytime it is needed. 

Being we attend a small traditional Anglo-Catholic parish here in Tampa Bay, one very important thing our rector does every Sunday after the Eucharist is to offer this unction to parishioners.  He prays for the sick, anoints them with Holy Chrism, and many have been healed by him doing this.  Fr. John doesn't do that like some televangelist either, but is following a very ancient Christian practice with Biblical roots.  And, it is the Sacrament of Holy Unction.  Now that we have established its Scriptural and historical continuity, let me now briefly explain how the practice is observed.

In general, when Unction is given, it is usually for someone who needs a physical healing, but can also be for deliverance from bondage or for peace of mind when worries and other issues plague us.  A validly-ordained minister should always administer the sacrament though, and here is why - I Timothy 5;22 admonishes us not to lay hands suddenly on just anyone, as it could cause trouble.  Oppressive spirits - harassing demons of depression and other things - can be transferred to a person whose faith may not be as strong, and thus cause a large number of problems.  Also, we are likewise told elsewhere to test spirits, and to not have someone's hands laid on us indiscriminately either.  That was unfortunately a weakness in the past in some Pentecostal and charismatic circles, as you had people running around laying hands on everyone else, and as a result mayhem and confusion happened.  That is why, I have come to believe, that it is acceptable to practice the laying on of hands in three circumstances:

1.  The ordained ministry - we must do things "decently and in order," submitting to the authority of the local church on that

2.  Within the family setting - God has given a special dispensation for couples, in particular fathers, to pray over the home and those in it, as the husband/father is the priest of the household.  The wife, likewise, can have some authority here as well, for if the husband is the elder and priest of the household, his wife is like a deacon.  Besides, in that setting, we know the spirituality of our spouses, and therefore it can be banked upon to be pretty safe.

3.  In the absence of a clergy at a meeting, in particular an informal prayer gathering or something, the people in the group are usually well-known to each other, and thus it is acceptable for brethren within the same assembly to pray over each other in this way.

The manner in which it is normally done is to anoint either the forehead, or if sickness the affected part of the body, with a blessed anointing oil in the sign of the cross, and then the prayer is to be prayed over that person "in the name of the Lord."  The prayer can be from a liturgical text or it can be what is called a spontaneous ejaculatory prayer, which is what many charismatic prayer groups do.  It is also good to have a member of the clergy administering it if possible, and at least 2 other laymen assisting with the prayer.   This lends to the Scriptural "when two or three are gathered together in My name" idea, and thus the power of prayer is in concord with the Body in general. 

Back to prayer cloths, if one is used, it must be prayed over and blessed by a member of the clergy, and these are used in cases of physical infirmity.  Since this is often a practice for a person who is unable to be in a church setting, it is important to instruct the recipient on its use and to understand the Scriptural mandate behind the use of a prayer cloth.  Also, a strong admonition must be given to advise the recipient that these cloths are not magic talismans, and to use them as such would mean occultism, which is forbidden for Christians to engage in.  The recipient of the prayer cloth places the cloth upon the affected area of the body requiring healing, and prays a personal prayer of healing "in the name of the Lord." If another person is present who is a Christian, they can and should be in agreement with the prayer, as there is power in numbers who pray.  A person who receives and uses a genuine prayer cloth in the correct manner may not be healed overnight, but they should notice a difference in the very near future.  The Bible is also clear on that too, because although miraculous healings can and do happen, Mark 16:18 tells us that if the believer lays hands on the sick, they shall recover.  God alone determines miraculous healings, but He does and will heal the person who is believing for a healing one way or another.

This was a brief teaching, and so much more can be said about this subject, but this is just to address the fundamentals and give you an idea of what Holy Unction is all about.  Some believe in and practice this Mystery of our faith without even realizing it, but it is OK because God does honor the righteous.  God bless you until next week, and if any of you feel led to do so, please keep my mother-in-law, Gloria  Webster, in your prayers.