We are Pro-Life

Latin Mass:  18th Sunday after Pentecost
Friends in Christ, during World War II, Albert Speer was Hitler’s head of armament production. He escaped the death penalty at the Nuremburg trials, because he claimed to not know about the atrocities.
Once, he had been advised by another official that he should never accept an invitation to visit a concentration camp, because that official had seen something that could not be described. ‘From that moment on, says Speer, ‘I was morally contaminated; I feared to discover something – I had closed my eyes.
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Beloved in Christ, October is Respect Life Month. It is the month when we remind ourselves and others of the holocaust going on in our own society: the abortion of little children, and other crimes against humanity.
We do not close our eyes to it. In fact, we Catholics must be ambassadors for Christ, spreading the gospel of life.
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Many of our leaders who are supposed to be the traditional defenders of life, have turned their backs on this responsibility.
Mother Teresa said, ‘It is a poverty, that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.’ ‘Freedom, people say, is to be able to do whatever you want. And that may mean, that someone else needs to die – so that I may live as I wish.’
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We are here speaking of the poison of abortion, in which a child must die so that our society can continue on with its “free-love” with no consequences. But this is not love at all. It is hedonism.
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But let us today, also look at the other end of life. The elderly and those who are dying. There is a problem here as well. St. John Paul II said, ‘A society will be judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members and among the weakest are the unborn and the dying.’
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It is not uncommon, to receive a call to go to a dying person. One goes to the hospital, to the room you’ve been given. And often, one finds only the dying person there. A relative put the call in to the priest, but they are not there. They just want it “taken care of.” Friends, no one should ever die alone.
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‘He just sleeps all the time, so I go and take care of other things.’ ‘Dad doesn’t even know if I’m there,’ people say. Really? You might be wrong about that. And even if it’s true, how can a person not accompany their parent, or sibling, or friend in this last journey, at least with their presence.
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No one should die alone, yet it is happening often. Of course there are sometimes circumstances when a person can’t be there. Perhaps he is on a trip to Japan. No time to get back. Perhaps he is himself a doctor trying to save a life, or a priest, who must put his people ahead of his own family. But unfortunately, it is more common that a person simply does not wish to be inconvenienced. ‘I have my life, my routine, and mom’s quality of life is no good anyway.’
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People speak too much today about “quality of life.” ‘Unless you can be a productive member of society, then giving medical treatment is useless, they say. Just be done with them.
I knew a case where a son was literally trying to speed up the death of his father, because he never did like him. There are cruel things going on during the sacred time of death.
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We see in the gospel today the love and care that Jesus has for the sick man in his bed; this is the example he gives us. Yet today, we are crawling toward that evil of euthanasia: putting people out of their misery, as if they were dogs, because death interferes with our nice routine.
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The Church teaches, that we are not required to accept extraordinary means to stay alive. So, if a person is in very bad shape, and is being kept alive by a lung machine or something – then that person CAN choose to just let nature take its course or they may choose to keep going.
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Food and hydration however, are not extraordinary means, even if food must be given by a tube or in an artificial way; we need to give food and drink because these are normal parts of living.
Of course, if the body won’t tolerate food or hydration, which sometimes happens in late stages – or if it is causing other problems, then this is not required.
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Pain medication may be used as necessary, even if, as a side-effect, it might shorten life, but it may never be given with the intention of shorting life, that is killing.
‘But let’s end dad’s suffering, let us hurry up his death.’ No. That is a sin.
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Now many times, a person can no longer make these decisions because of the illness. In this case, it is best not to use a Living Will, or a POLST[i] directive. It is not a good idea, to write down all the things you want or don’t want, because situations change.
‘Oh, I never want extraordinary means to keep me alive.’ Great. But let’s say you only need a respirator for one day and then you’ll be fully recovered and go home. Too bad, you said ‘no’ to respirator.
Better than trying to predict things, give someone you trust the power to make all the decisions, and explain to them your thinking. This is better. You can give them the Power of Attorney for Healthcare.
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But the most important thing, is that we be ambassadors of life: speaking about, and being witnesses to the dignity of human life, from conception, to natural death.
May the Blessed Virgin Mary pray for us and our world, that everyone would always be treated with the dignity they deserve as children of God.
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[Entrusted to the prayers of Blessed Bartolo Longo]

 

[i] Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment

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