Week of 3/11/2018
As we prepare to commemorate more deeply the Lord’s Passion, some political movements in our culture today would be best served by precisely this reflection of the Godman’s suffering. In the last several years here in Connecticut we have had debates on the issue of physician assisted suicide being legalized. This is a chilling development in our history, but at the same time one that is not unexpected. With the legalization of physician assisted suicide in Oregon and Vermont, we see the exaltation of human pride attempting to distance us further and further from God, in order to make our lives “less unpleasant.” This of course is George Orwell’s notion of “doublespeak;” euphemisms that disguise the reality of an evil sought.
Several years ago, the CT Post ran a column that supported this bill, calling it “aid for the dying.” This Post column criticized the Catholic bishops for trying to stop such legislation from occurring; it used euphemisms that disguised the fact that it is murder suicide, and declared such legislation as meant to be compassionate. But let’s recall some simple facts. The Hippocratic Oath specifically says, “Do no harm.” This is a fundamental principle of medicine; that the role of the doctor is always meant to heal, never to destroy.
It is also guided by a false philosophy of approach to pain. Pain is the result of original sin, and it is indeed very compassionate when we seek to relieve others of their pain, especially in the attempt to heal an injury. But that is the key: in euthanasia the desire is to end pain by direct killing, which is inescapably murder. In our faith, we realize that the suffering of one person can be used by God as a means of drawing compassion and self-sacrifice out of loved ones and even strangers; that suffering which is a natural evil, can actually bring people closer to God. This is never to say that we should directly inflict suffering on ourselves for the sake of suffering, but instead says that we should use the opportunity to unite ourselves to the Cross. Suffering can cause great conversions, but only when there is faith.
Christ could easily have avoided the Cross and its suffering; in fact, this was one of the temptations if the devil. But it would have been a sinful route to avoid or end it. This leads not only to murder, but also to the corruption of all those involved. It becomes the ultimate in arrogance because it declares we are more compassionate than God, who actually suffered more in one lifetime on earth than we could in a thousand. Thus, the key to solving the issue of suffering is always learning from the God who suffered for us.
This whole issue reveals a deeper problem of trust in God over what is good, what is evil, and mankind’s desire to remake the world according to our desire for convenience and pleasure. Only God decides what is good and evil, and considering that He died for us, we can trust that all that He teaches is only for our benefit and our salvation. Today’s America is similar to ancient Israel, where God starts exhorting Israel to forge its promises to Him made through Moses or suffer serious consequences for its sin.
The fact that we treat human life as disposable initiates suffering the moral consequences of broken families and social ills. Let us feverishly teach the young that the solution to pain is never murder, but seeking Christ on the Cross, Who gives us a hope murder cannot: hope in eternal life! That ultimately, true politics are only a means, never an ends. True politics should only protect our religious freedom, protect all human life as priceless, and allow all people to live as God calls us; to spread authentic love, care for the ill and suffering.
That suffering is to be remedied as best we can, but only through love and self denial; never through murder to give homage to the phony gods of convenience or false compassion.
God love you,
Fr. Brian Gannon