A couple years ago, when we legalized assisted suicide in our country, I was in a way inspired to write an article that I shared with my religion classes. I hadn’t thought about it in a while, but the recent events in Ireland shook me to my core. I am not Irish, but I do love Guiness and am a rugby fanatic. A year ago, with my wife and kids, I spent a couple weeks in Ireland. We noticed that it was not like other European nations, in that Ireland did not have the heir of a country like France or Italy, that made a conscious decision to be un-Catholic. Instead, Ireland seemed like a nation of wounded Catholics who mourned the loss of their history. I distinctly remember a moment in Dublin when I was in a tourist shop. There was a statue of the Infant of Prague, and an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Yet, on a shelf, there was a box of brochures talking about the “Repeal the 8th” movement going on. I had no idea what it was, but like most things inspired by Satan, it immediately seemed to me something hellish in origin. Later on, I researched what I had seen and found that it was indeed a pro-abortion movement. The dichotomy of this store, the Holy Statues and the abortion propaganda, side-by side, truly represent the schizophrenic nature of a once great Christendom.
Three years ago, when the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the ban on Assisted Suicide, I was sitting in a staff room at a Catholic Elementary school at which I was supplying for the day. The news came through that assisted suicide would no longer be illegal in our nation, and without skipping a beat, the majority of the Catholic teachers eating lunch exclaimed their approval for the decision. Sitting in a room with a Crucifix adorning the door way, approval of assisted suicide was a cause to rejoice.
Eventually, our nation codified assisted suicide as a right, and therefore paved the way for human beings to be treated like sick animals – put down on slabs in sterilized rooms. It was at that time I wrote the following article. Of course, it is old news, but I think it is still relevant.
With Regards to Assisted Death
This is a day on which our culture has made the decision that the dignity of a human life ends during a state of great suffering.
There once lived an Albanian woman who was quite famous during the last century. Her fame came not from athletics or entertainment, but from her service of the most forgotten and thrown away in society. She herself personally picked up and tended to more than 40,000 dying human beings, on the streets of the world’s most ruthless ghettos. In their final moments she would bathe them, kiss them, hold their hand, love them to sleep and pray with them. This woman answered a call to be a beacon of hope, a picture of Heaven in the depths of human suffering. She showed us that in the most painful and insufferable moments that every tear, whimper and breath was a testament to the inexplicable glory and dignity of the children of this amazing story.
It is in these dark moments where even the flickering of a tiny flame can shine brighter than the stars. In fact, it is in holding the hand of the dying that we see ourselves for who we really are; beautiful, fragile and infinitely worthy of life. It is our pain that produces the greatest of virtues. It is our sadness that shows us just how in need of joy we truly are. It is in thrusting our loved ones closer to death that we see how ugly we have become.
This wonderful woman once said, “I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only love.” We have decided with this decision that the hurt is too strong even for the greatest love. We have decided that an act of violence will in fact take away the pain. We fail to see that in hastening death we ourselves become the bringer of death. When the reaper is called, it will be us who answers.
When our children ask us the value of a human being, we will answer in quantity and usefulness. When they ask what constitutes the good life, we will say to avoid suffering. When they find that they at times are not useful and constantly suffer, they will ask us when it is their turn to die.
This is not about terminal illnesses or suffering, it is about our fear of being human. We all suffer a terminal illness that we cannot escape and will one day take us, it is in our nature to be here one day and not the next. Even those who evade virtually all suffering will still find at times the anguish of knowing that we are limited. We have opened the casket and given an open invitation, we have closed our hearts and filled them with cement.
The woman I mentioned earlier is called Mother Teresa. She is perhaps the most important woman of the last millennium. Her cracked and weathered face, her tired and suffering eyes only magnify the presence of her soul saving smile. On her shoulders she accepted the suffering of the abandoned as a source of joy and hope in this great mystery. With the destruction of human beings in their most helpless moments we are declaring to eternity that we would also prefer to destroy hope. This decision can only harm our hearts and further erode our virtues. This is in fact the moment in which we have decided that Mother Teresa’s work was in vain.
I have great hope, however, as it is in the wilful promotion of death that we witness the absurdity of our self-defeating ideologies, and the unyielding strength of life. It is my hope that this culture, which fights for death, will begin to fight for new life. Perhaps this self induced winter of the soul can make way for an everlasting spring thaw, in which the heart will finally become gladdened and warmed by the advent of an ever incumbent summer.
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