Recently came across an old article from Susan Windley-Daoust on The Sign of the Dying Body: How the Theology of the Body Helps Us to Die in Love
Dying—undergoing it, or helping one who is dying—is a privileged space where we see and encounter God himself. And in dying, the ensouled body serves as a sign of gift and giving, yielding one’s life to the embrace of God. It is a sign that well-illumined the insights of John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.
Windley-Daoust recently published a book with more on this topic: Theology of the Body, Extended: The Spiritual Signs of Birth, Impairment and Dying.
Today the Catholic Church honors the Blessed Virgin Mary under her title of Our Lady of Sorrows. Today also happens to be my birthday, so this feast has always kind of been a bit of a personal one for me.
Our Lady was so intimately linked with the redemptive work of her Son that she shared in His sufferings here on earth (Lk. 2:35) while standing by Him on the cross (Jn. 19:25). Besides our Lord, Mary is the greatest example of perseverance in suffering and is a constant source of strength and inspiration for me in my own sufferings.
This feast of our sorrowful Mother, who is also now the Queen of Heaven, is a great source of hope as well — a reminder of the reward of those who suffer for the sake of Christ:
If we have died with him we shall also live with him; if we persevere we shall also reign with him. -2 Timothy 2:11-12
Finally, Our Sorrowful Mother teaches us that it’s okay to be sad and mourn the loss of loved ones that are dear to us. Sorrow is not a lack of faith or trust in God. Christ, himself, expressed sorrow many times in the Gospels — even openly wept at the death of his good friend Lazarus (Jn 11:35).
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit. -Psalm 34:18
Prayer to Mary, Mother of Sorrows, by St. Bonaventure:
O most holy Virgin, Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ: by the overwhelming grief you experienced when you witnessed the martyrdom, the crucifixion, and death of your divine Son, look upon me with eyes of compassion, and awaken in my heart a tender commiseration for those sufferings, as well as a sincere detestation of my sins, in order that being disengaged from all undue affection for the passing joys of this earth, I may sigh after the eternal Jerusalem, and that henceforward all my thoughts and all my actions may be directed towards this one most desirable object.
Honor, glory, and love to our divine Lord Jesus, and to the holy and immaculate Mother of God. Amen.
I mentioned last year that work had begun on a memorial in Germany for the 300,000 people murdered by the Nazis for having mental and physical disabilities or chronic illnesses.
That memorial finally opened last week in Berlin.
“The Nazi murders of disabled people are among the most inhumane acts of history,” said Mayor Klaus Wowereit. “It is high time that these victims of Nazi inhumanity finally receive their own memorial.”
Mayor Wowereit was joined by relatives of victims and members of the public who all lay wreaths and white roses in front of the 100-foot-long, blue glass wall of the open-air memorial and permanent exhibition.
“We must denounce the inhumane distinction between a worthy and an unworthy life,” said Monika Gruetters, Germany’s state minister for culture and media. “Every human life is valuable – that’s the message of this memorial.”
As I said before, this is the part of the holocaust that people need much more education on. I’ll never forget being told by someone that he thought only Jews were exterminated in the holocaust!
What perhaps needs to be understand above all is that the Nazis were actually inspired by a pre-existing eugenics movement that advocated the destruction of Life Unworthy of Life. A movement propagated, not by Hitler, but by high-profile German intellectuals and other “medical professionals.”
This is why statements like the ones recently made by humanist and darling of the intellectual community Richard Dawkins about the “morality” of killing unborn children with Down syndrome should not be taken lightly.
Unfortunately, Dawkins is not alone. Much of the West, it seems, has failed to learn from history and continues to accept that there is such a thing as unlivable, unworthy life. And it’s not limited to just some lofty intellectual idea.
His comments may have been crass, but Dawkins was correct about one thing, the majority of children prenatally diagnosed with Ds ARE currently being killed in the womb. But that’s not all. In the Netherlands, doctors kill babies with serious or terminal disabilities after they’re born.
Also on the rise in the Netherlands, as well as in Belgium, is euthanasia for people with serious physical and mental illnesses. And the so-called “right to die” is slowly spreading to other countries, including the United States.
What short memories we have!
Once upon a time physicians and medical professionals — believers and non-believers alike — swore an oath to recognize and uphold the dignity of their patients and “never do harm” or administer deadly medicine to anyone – even when asked. Now, not only do we not require such an oath to be taken anymore, but for those who do take it we’ve changed it into something more politically than medically correct.
Any reference to never administering deadly medicine has been removed and replaced with a vague pledge to “tread with care in matters of life and death.”
A physician’s job is to heal, not kill. Death is never medicine, no matter how permanent the diagnosis or how much pain the patient is in. We may not be directly headed toward mass murder of the kind that happened in Germany in the early half of the 20th century, but we’re still in for a world of trouble once we start making death an acceptable “treatment” for pain and suffering.
Dear readers, please accept these photos of the cutest little baby Gator you’ve ever seen in your life, as a consolation for failing to publish any of the three or four posts I started this week (and to celebrate the start of college football!). I will try to do better next week!
This was me and my nephew Cruz just a few months ago watching the Gators lose to Connecticut in the Final Four.
He’s a little bigger now, but just as adorable.
Cute baby Gator throwback: guess who??
Go Gators! –,==,<
The persecution of Christians and other innocent civilians half a world away suddenly hit close to home for Americans this week with news that kidnapped journalist James Foley had been beheaded by members of the Islamic State.
In the wake of his death, a letter has emerged from Foley to his alma mater, Marquette University. In it, he wrote of his imprisonment in a military detention center in Tripoli in 2011 and of the solace he found in praying the rosary during his incarceration there.
If nothing else, prayer was the glue that enabled my freedom, an inner freedom first and later the miracle of being released during a war in which the regime had no real incentive to free us. It didn’t make sense, but faith did.
I pray that he was able to maintain that inner freedom throughout his captivity and execution.
I don’t really have a whole lot to say. I just wanted to recommend a book by my favorite modern spiritual author, Fr. Jacques Philippe, called Interior Freedom. It is by far his best.
He also released a new one this year specifically about prayer. That’s the only one of his books I have not read yet, but, like all the ones before it, I’m sure it is quite helpful and spiritually insightful.
Foley’s death and the deaths and displacement of thousands of others are a stark, painful reminder that our exterior freedom is never guaranteed. But there is one thing that no force can ever take away from us.
Interior freedom is not only necessary in captivity, but also in our ordinary daily lives when even small annoyances can threaten our peace and calm.
Not surprisingly, The Anchoress also has some words worth reflecting on. Specifically:
…this intentional evil that has once more reared its head, as it has in the past, is going to require more than rhetoric and airstrikes, or grenades or tanks. Intentional evil must be fought by intentional disciples. And all I’ve been saying for these months is: begin to practice prayer. Begin to form your intentional discipleship within your families and your communities.
Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer. Rom. 12:12
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul and the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
Before praying at the abortion memorial in Korea this weekend, Pope Francis also visited the “House of Hope” Rehabilitation Center Saturday afternoon. He spent almost an hour at the center where he embraced and blessed many of the patients and greeted teachers and health workers.
According to CNA, Bishop Gabriel Chang Bong-huh, Bishop of Cheongju, addressed the Holy Father and said “these children have suffered from double abandonment: abandoned first by their parents for birth defects and later by society because nobody wanted to adopt them because of prejudices against children with disabilities.”
“Holy Father, your visit is a strong call for us to practice preferential love and concern for children with disabilities.”
Indeed. Humanity’s greatness is shown best in how we love and care for those in need.
How many children with disabilities, like those at the House of Hope, continue to be abandoned throughout the world or, worse yet, have their lives snuffed out before they’re even born?
We should be concerned with finding cures and making the world a place where people with disabilities feel welcome and valued, not pushing them away or snuffing them out of existence.
Visiting the sick and disabled is not unique to Francis’ pontificate, of course. During his visit to the United States in 2008, pope Benedict had a special audience for children with disabilities and told them
God has blessed you with life, and with differing talents and gifts. Through these you are able to serve him and society in various ways. While some people’s contributions seem great and others’ more modest, the witness value of our efforts is always a sign of hope for everyone.
Sometimes it is challenging to find a reason for what appears only as a difficulty to be overcome or even pain to be endured. Yet our faith helps us to break open the horizon beyond our own selves in order to see life as God does. God’s unconditional love, which bathes every human individual, points to a meaning and purpose for all human life. Through his Cross, Jesus in fact draws us into his saving love (cf. Jn 12:32) and in so doing shows us the way ahead – the way of hope which transfigures us all, so that we too, become bearers of that hope and charity for others.
Related: Your Handicapped Child is a Blessing
During his visit to Korea last week, Pope Francis prayed in silence in front of the symbolic cemetery displaying hundreds of small white crosses to represent aborted children.
GAH! Have I mentioned lately how much I love the Thais and the beautiful, moving commercials they produce?
Here’s another great one I came across recently.
To have and to hold, from this day forward; for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness, and in health, to love and to cherish, to death do us part.
As Frank Weathers notes, this is what living the marriage vow is all about.
It reminds me of an experience I had at a nursing home I used to visit a few years ago. Read: Love Endures All Things
Over at the Register, Rebecca Taylor comments on the recent surrogacy scandal from Thailand involving an Australian couple and a surrogate from Thailand who gave birth to twins, one of whom has Down syndrome.
The couple took home the healthy baby girl, leaving the future of her twin brother with DS in jeopardy.
The Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano ran an op-ed commenting on Gammy’s story, stating, “In reality, there’s little to be indignant about: If you accept the logic of a child as a product, this is the obvious consequence.”
It is no secret that the stance of the Catholic Church — which categorically rejects the “logic” of regarding any child as a mere “product” — is wildly unpopular. In a society that thinks any way to make a baby is the right way to make a baby, the Church is often seen as a backward institution that rejects and shames infertile couples. We are labeled as “haters.”
In reality, nothing could be farther from the truth.
What is the Church really saying when she rejects artificial reproductive technologies (ART) like IVF and surrogacy? The Church teaches that to create human life outside of the act of intercourse between husband and wife is unethical. Why? There are many reasons, but the most compelling is because we all deserve the absolute best start in life.
She goes into much more detail, but the crux of Taylor’s article is something you’ve seen me bring up here time and time again: Taking the creation of life out of its natural, God-given context and moving it into the science lab seriously alters how many view the wonder and mystery of new life and how that new life should be treated.
For example, Taylor uses a quote from a story I mentioned here a few years ago, about a woman who was chose to kill one of the healthy unborn twins she conceived via IVF. She rationalized it this way:
If I had conceived these twins naturally, I wouldn’t have reduced this pregnancy, because you feel like if there’s a natural order, then you don’t want to disturb it. But we created this child in such an artificial manner — in a test tube, choosing an egg donor, having the embryo placed in me — and somehow, making a decision about how many to carry seemed to be just another choice. The pregnancy was all so consumerish to begin with, and this became yet another thing we could control.
Consciously or unconsciously, to desire a child as the end result of a technological procedure instead of the fruit of marital love is to treat the child not as a person to love, but a product to obtain.
This actually goes quite well with the story I posted a few hours ago.
According to the NY Post there is a growing trend of people launching GoFundMe campaigns for help purchasing their future children.
GoFundMe reports that the total value of donations made to people seeking IVF funding in its “Babies, Kids and Family” category worldwide stands at $1.1 million since its 2010 launch. And those numbers are growing: The amount donated between January and July 2014 is already a third higher than that collected for the entirety of 2013.
The Post highlighted two such campaigns specifically. And I couldn’t help noticing something particularly troubling on the page for for one of those campaigns.
Sometimes people will attach prizes to certain dollar amounts as incentives for people to donate. Understandable. But this??
$100 gets you two free hours with the babies (who don’t even exist yet)! Something’s terribly wrong with this picture.
If that’s not treating children like objects/products — before they even exist — I don’t know what is.
I think the CBC’s Jennifer Lahl, quoted in the Post, has it right. There’s something quite tacky and tasteless about asking friends, family and strangers to help you exploit women and buy children.