Thou may kill
(anywhere in Canada, and in some of the not-so-United States)
first, the unborn
second, the ones who approach death
third, who is next?
[Or: Why we need to pray (and fast) for our lawmakers
not just during the Fortnight of Freedom,
not just U.S. lawmakers, but all civil authorities
always and everywhere]
When I seek out news about The Ongoings and Business of Government and learn about things like the passing of Bill C-14 in Canada, it’s difficult for me to gather my thoughts and feelings and translate them in a sensical and cohesive way.
I defer (at least for a couple of paragraphs), therefore, to Toronto’s Cardinal Collins, who, in the following video, makes a clearer statement than I could make regarding Canada’s decriminalization of killing people at their weakest and most vulnerable moments in life, during great trials of suffering — the final stages of life, be it days or hours or even the last weeks or months.
Our broader society also needs to engage in the necessary but lengthy process of reflection upon the dire implications of every aspect of our life together when we lose the fundamental ability to distinguish between dying and being killed. We all need to recognize the profound moral significance of that distinction.
— Cardinal Collins
I admire the cardinal’s ability not to question the good intentions of people who support and vote for euthanasia laws. Their good intentions are something I must struggle to acknowledge. Caught in the flux and flow of emotion, sarcasm surfaces, which is not appropriate.
I create scenarios in my head, where someone says something like, “oh, you are in great pain and you are most likely going to die next week, perhaps the week after, we don’t really know, so how about I just kill you now, (and then we will know and we can pretend we are in control)? Your suffering is meaningless. And look at how those who love you suffer from watching you endure so much pain? Do you really want to watch them suffer? Just sign this paper. It’s a good thing. You’ll thank me for it, I promise. You can be on your merry way, and we can all feel like we did something good and heroic by ending your life.”
We need to speak forthrightly. When people feel compelled to use language in a way that does not reveal what is actually happening, but instead conceals it, it is a sign that something is radically wrong, and they know it. The now officially accepted terminology, such as “medical assistance in dying,” does not describe medical assistance in dying; it describes killing. Let us say what we mean and mean what we say. — Cardinal Collins
And then there are the moments when I’m simply stupefied and unable to speak. After I recovered from a debilitating health issue, I wanted to visit the sick. I began to volunteer at a hospice. There I met A., who was dying of bone cancer, and her husband O. It was around my third or fourth visit to see A. when O. said to me, “We shoot horses. We’re kinder to them. I don’t know why she has to suffer so much.” He spoke as if his wife could not hear, but I was certain she could and did hear everything we said. If O was not around during my visit, A. was alert and talkative. When he was there, she rarely spoke. Occasionally she would burst into the conversations with a comment, seemingly out of the blue. She had been listening the whole time. When it was just the two of us, A told me stories about herself, her marriage, her faith. She accepted her suffering, knew it had a redemptive quality, and trusted in God. She knew her final destination and that the death of the body is not the end of life. And she was sure that she was not a horse.
Every minute of life has value. We don’t always understand the meaning of the moment. There is an aspect of suffering that will always remain mysterious, that will require us to surge ahead in faith and hope.
The people I met at the hospice taught me much, humbled and inspired me, and graced me by sharing their lives with me. I was honored to know them, however briefly, and under the worst possible circumstances. These last moments are a tremendous gift from God, and through which God can do great things. May each person I met rest in peace and may the light of glory shine on them for all eternity.
C-14 and other measures like it in nations around the world have been foretold by those who oppose the killing of innocent children in the womb. When you begin to pick and sort which and what kind of human life has value, and under what circumstances, you degrade the value of all human life.
How lost are we — not as Canadians or Americans or Westerners, but as humankind? How spiritually dead are we? How many will be killed under the misguided “compassion” of C-14 (and similar sanctions for killing in the U.S.? (California recently joined four other states in passing so-called “death with dignity” laws. Last year, thanks be to God, 11 states rejected similar legislation.)
U.S. politics has devolved into a reality TV show. Mainstream media distorts the issues and does nothing to foster honest debate and respectful discussion of any issues, let alone life and death issues.
Today the Democrats in Congress had some kind of “sit-in,” upset about votes on gun control legislation. Yet some of these people — all rightfully upset about the loss of life in the recent terrorist attack in Orlando — support the killing of unborn children and the killing of terminally ill people. Would they “sit in” and hold their peers accountable for these other lives? Or do Some Lives Matter More Than Others?
In his video message, Cardinal Collins asked, and I join him in asking, “What is the way forward?”
You and I were born, chosen, before the foundation of the world, for this place, this time, and these challenges. So I ask you again to join me in prayer (and fasting) during the Fortnight for Freedom 2016.
Let us pray that America will be a leader for true freedom for all people. Let us pray not just for America. What happens in Canada should matter to us. What happens in Europe should matter to us. Asia. Africa. The Middle East. Latin America.
One bread. One body. One head. One Christ.
The question is not whether you need relief. It is how to find it. Suicide is not the answer to the very real question you face. — Cardinal Collins
The confluence of gun control and euthanasia issues brings to my mind Saint Dominic, who, in his time, did much penance, sacrificing sleep to spend nights in prayer and penance, asking God “what will become of sinners?”
I add to that: What will become of the complacent? Those who stand by and say and do nothing? Those who misbelieve that these issues don’t affect them?
Thank you, Cardinal Collins, for your measured and rational response to the passing of C-14.
Note: sensical is not an official word (yet) according to dictionary compilers, but a word I like nonetheless and consider appropriate in the context.
Have mercy on us, O Lord, for we have sinned against you
Forgive me, God, for my complacency; my lack of compassion; my own fear and unwillingness to suffer; my lack of love; my lack of mercy; my lack of faith, hope, and charity. Help me in my ignorance and weakness. Forgive my arrogance, pride, and selfishness. Cure me of delusion. I have not loved my neighbor as you love me. Grant me the courage and generosity of the Good Samaritan to tend to the sufferings of my neighbor, to do what I can to alleviate his pain without intentionally ending his life. May I bring hope to those who are in pain or suffer for any reason. May I trust in God with every suffering. May I value human life in its fullness, including suffering, as you value it. May we all run this race so as to win the prize, and in doing so, assist and ensure that others win their prizes, too. For the glory of God.