Tuesday, June 4, 2024

What IS relevant


I looked down and there was one of those super tiny, literally less than a pinhead-sized creature.  I went to take it up and it flew away, I think.

It was so small it was almost invisible to the naked eye.  Too small, it seemed, to be able to eat anything, and definitely not much of a meal itself.

But doesn't every living, moving thing need to eat?  What could possibly be small enough that this microscopic creature could consume it as its own food?

I have questions.

One of which is, "Why?"  Why does this minuscule speck-of-dust even exist?  If it is too small to be someone's food source, and probably doesn't contribute much of anything to the insect world, why is it here, and did God actually create it?

Like I said, I have questions.

Oddly, all of this got me to thinking about my presentation--years ago-- on euthanasia.  I was talking to Confirmation students and their sponsors.

One of the questions I posed to them was this:

"If grandma (or whoever) can no longer contribute to society, and by all appearances seems to have run out of her "usefulness," who determines whether her death should be accelerated by euthanasia?

There was the usual discussion about "grandma's" preference and whether or not that should be followed, but eventually, the discussion landed on that question.  

"Who decides?" and by whose standard is the determination made?

Should euthanasia be decided on the basis of one's mental state, or physical state? If she's just tired and wants to be done with it, what should family members do?

What if she is in chronic pain? Does that change anything?

Well, naturally, as Catholics, we are in no way supportive of euthanasia/assisted suicide.  We believe that life has value from conception to natural death.  The necessary thing is to accompany those who are suffering, offering them spiritual help through blessings, anointings, prayers and so forth.

And our presence. 

Through personal touch and compassion, we must assure them of their value, treating them with dignity and offering comfort.

We must assure them they are not an inconvenience, and they are not alone, as we love them right through to the end. Yes, the suffering may continue, but they will not be alone in it. We will suffer alongside them, like Mary at the foot of the cross, and later, as she held Jesus in her arms.

From the Catholic approach to end-of-life decisions, it is understood that there may be times when medicine is called for in order to give a patient relief. Sometimes, that medicine may even hasten one's death, but the intention is to relieve suffering, and intention is what we need to consider.

I might have questions about the existence of that microscopic creature I encountered the other day, but I do not have any questions about human life.  Whether one can make any contribution to society is irrelevant to their continued existence.

What IS relevant is that each of us is created by a Father who loves us, and in that alone, we have dignity, and must be treated accordingly.

Janet Cassidy 

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