Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Right to Die

Usually, my family and I attend the children's mass at our parish. I love the children's mass! It has upbeat music, the children get to go up and sit around our pastor for the homily, and perhaps most importantly, almost everyone there has children. Therefore, there is a general understanding that young children are not always quiet and prayerful during mass (though we are working on it!)

This weekend however, I was going away for Sunday (I am currently writing from my friend's house - about 100 miles from home), so we went to the Saturday 4:30 pm mass. This mass, while certainly open to everyone, is definitely most attended by senior citizens. We had a guest priest who gave a homily on the right to die. My husband indicated that he left mass not quite certain where the priest stood on the issue. I think that the priest, like the Catholic Church in general, was indicating that every situation is different. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. While condemning assisted suicide in every instance, he acknowledged that there are times when it can be wise and prudent to withdraw or even not seek medical treatment, and just let nature take its course. While we do not have the right to take life, we do have the right to die with dignity, and to allow our loved ones to do the same.

Who can forget the whole Terry Schaivo case from the spring? While everyone seemed to have an opinion, it is hard to know what one would do in the same situation. What if it was your daughter, your husband, your mother? At what point do medical interventions become extraordinary? How difficult it must be to try to decide what God wants in a given situation when the choice is between life (which is God's greatest gift) and death (which is our going home to be with God).

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