Tag Archives: suffering

Connecticut lawmakers to consider physician assisted suicide

The front page
of today’s New Haven Register carried an article by Jordan Fenster,
Right-to-die bill may be discussed by legislature” by which the citizens of
Connecticut were alerted to the possibility that in the next session of the
legislature the question of assisted suicide will be on the table. Following
the defeat of Massachusetts ballot on the same subject last week, the contagion is now again flowing south. Already three US states, Oregon, Montana and Washington, allow for
physician assisted suicide. 34 states prohibit lethal doses of medication that
would end human life.

Let me say from the outset, this is not a Catholic issue. Persons of belief and unbelief ought to be concerned about the potential passing of a law that legalizes medically induced suicide. Hence, this is not a conservative issue. This is not a an anti-human dignity issue. It
is just the opposite: this is a human issue. Who we are a human beings, and how
we teach each other is a human issue that is informed by what we believe and
how we behave. Committing this legislative error is a problem of education.
Recall that in the past when a similar bill was brought to the CT voters it failed only 51-49%.

Several weeks ago there appeared in the New York Times an
intriguing OP-ED article that I believe we need to seriously consider in the
discussion of physician assisted suicide. Considering voices that differ from ours need to be thoughtfully taken into account because we are people use who reason to frame our moral lives. We can’t simply dismiss the other and therefore I appeal to people of belief and unbelief to reasonably discuss what’s at stake. When we rush the discuss without fact we always get burned.

In my opinion not enough attention has been devoted
to considering how this legislation has been lived out in this country and in
others, nor have we considered the philosophical, theological, sociological and
human consequences of such an act. Most often our heart-strings are pulled, even stretched leading us to decide weighty matters without due attention to the reality in front of us –to the person and people and intimately connected with life and death issues. We also don’t always adequately consider the eternal consequences of killing someone before natural death happens. 

Who’s life are we “making dignified” by engaging death before it’s naturally
presented? What really is human dignity? What does it mean to be truly a man or
a woman in relationship with other men and women here-and-now, and following
death? To what extent does fear, anxiety and perceived suffering dictate how we
think and act toward others? Are we sufficiently aware of and sensitive to the difference between ideology and being a person, no matter how debilitated?

Here is Ben Mattlin’s October 31, 2012 New York
article published online.

Suicide by Choice? Not So Fast

Read more ...

Fr Luigi Squarcia who united his suffering with Christ’s, meets the Lord

LSquarcia2.jpgLast November I posted a story about a priest, Father Luigi Squarcia, 66, a priest of the Diocese of Viterbo, who was living with Lou Gehrig’s Disease relating that Father Luigi was determined not to be defined by the ravages of a disease, nor to give into the nihilism of sickness and forthcoming death. What he did was remarkable: Father Luigi lived as a true Christian. He gathered up his sufferings for the life of the Mystical Body of the Church and gave them to the Lord in the person of Pope Benedict.

I received word today from friends of his letting me know that Father Luigi died on Wednesday and his funeral is today. My correspondent said that his funeral was concelebrated by four bishops. “He was loved by everyone and a real priest, since he offered and prayed until the last the minute.” I hope that can be said of me when I meet the Lord face to face. In his funeral homily Bishop Chiarinelli likened Father Luigi to Job: tested and found faithful. The bishop also noted that Father’s life was courageous, full of hope and complete in the Cross of Christ.
Providential that I receive this note from Italy about Father Luigi’s death because in my Christian Anthropology class these last days we’ve been speaking of suffering, uniting our suffering with that of Christ’s for the salvation of the world. We’re reading John Paul’s Salvifici Doloris and CS Lewis’ The Problem of Pain trying to understanding the mystery of suffering and pain and how it is redemptive and has radical meaning in a world that rejects suffering and meaning.
Offer a prayer for Father Luigi Squarcia who, indeed, did not squander the gift of suffering.
O God, Who did raise Thy servant Luigi Squarcia to the dignity of priest in the apostolic priesthood, grant, we beseech Thee, that he may be joined in fellowship with Thine Apostles forevermore.
I ask you to pray for a friend, also a priest, Father David Borino, who living with the same disease as Father Luigi.
In the above picture, courtesy of the sisters of the Immaculate Heart Monastery in Acquapendente, has Father Luigi walking with Archbishop Boccardo praying the rosary. In 2005, while processing with the Blessed Sacrament to conclude a Marian year, Father felt a change in feeling in his arms.

Disaster in Haiti: where is God in this mess?

We’re all askingthe theodicy question. How could one -even person of solid faith in Providence–not ask why natural evil happens and why God permits it. In a recent interview Zenit asked the head of the Papal Charitable office, Cor Unum, Josef Cardinal Cordes, about the Haitian earthquake. As a first glance at the matter the Cardinal names something important, namely, if you claim to understand God, then your claim has nothing to do with the personal God of Christianity and that the Christian continues to believe God’s goodness in the face of suffering. Hard ideas to grasp. BUT it is a beginning.

ZENIT: How much does people’s faith help them through a catastrophe such as this?

Cardinal Cordes: The faith of the people who have suffered in this disaster will play a critical role in not only
bringing relief to their physical injuries and losses, but also in addressing the spiritual dimension and meaning to be found in such a catastrophe. In visiting disaster areas before and talking with survivors, many express their gratitude to God for sparing their lives and for the generous outpouring of assistance made available to them by family, friends, neighbors, and Churches worldwide. Because of the large Catholic population (80% of Haitians are Catholics), faith and the concrete presence/witness of the Church will have a very important role in the present tragedy.

Our Pontifical Council Cor Unum had already planned that the next meeting of the Populorum Progressio Foundation would take place in Santo Domingo this coming July. The foundation, established by Pope John Paul II, is to help the indigenous peoples of the Latin American and Caribbean countries. In the past, we have given much help to Haiti and we shall continue to do so. Of course, our spiritual closeness is of primary importance. We shall be certain to celebrate the Holy Eucharist on that occasion with bishops coming from different countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Without faith, this tragedy would turn into a complete disaster. That is why it will be essential for our brothers and sisters to pray together; experience Christians worldwide sharing their burdens as members of God’s family; know the compassion of our Holy Father. All these become sources of hope and energy. In His first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, Pope Benedict invites us to recall “St. Augustine who gives us faith’s answer to our sufferings: ‘Si comprehendis, non est Deus’ — ‘if you understand him, he is not God.'” The Holy Father adds: “Even in their bewilderment and failure to understand the world around them, Christians continue to believe in the ‘goodness and loving kindness of God’ (Titus 3:4)” (No. 38).

ZENIT: Will good come from this tragedy?

Cardinal Cordes: This is a disaster that has caused immense loss of life and suffering. Many years will be needed for the nation to be rebuilt physically and the people to recover in their spirits. For this reason, the Church must remain present even as others move away.

But already we see good rising from the ruins. The eyes of the world are being open to the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, whose long suffering was all but forgotten. This tragedy shows that we depend on each other and must care for our suffering brothers and sisters, just as we did during the Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. So we must ensure that the necessary assistance now being shown to Haiti continues in the long-term, for example through setting up better local Caritas structures and links with government development
ministries of wealthier countries and help agencies.

We are witnessing and hearing of many selfless and heroic acts made to save lives and to rescue those in danger.  There are still thousands of others, who, coming from all over the world and without any accolades, are dedicating themselves to helping whoever is in need. People are being moved to give of themselves spiritually and materially to help the poor and suffering. In the coming days and weeks, I am convinced that we shall encounter in the midst of this catastrophe many examples of goodness.

Above all, it is with trustworthy hope in the Crucified and Risen Lord Jesus that Christians face the present. In his encyclical Spe Salvi, Pope Benedict speaks of the sufferings of this moment being borne through hope in the future. It is not that Christians know the details of what awaits them, but they know in general terms that their life will not end in emptiness: “Only when the future is certain as a positive reality does it become possible to live the present as well” (Spe Salvi, 2).

Not Squandering illness: Terminally ill priest meets with Pope, offers sufferings for the Church

Father Luigi Squarcia.jpg

The Catholic News Agency ran this brief article yesterday (11/19/2009).
It captured my mind and heart, like it did for others, because I know two
people with Lou Gehrig’s disease (and one is also a priest) and another priest
who’s living with MS. The courage, love and patience these men have witnessed
is incredible. At least I think so.

Father Luigi
Squarcia, a pastor in the Italian town of Acquapendente who has suffered from
Lou Gehrig’s disease for the last four years, met with Pope Benedict XVI on
Wednesday and offered his “sufferings for the good of the Church.”

After the
meeting with the Holy Father in Paul VI Hall, Father Squarcia said, “I came to offer
the Pope my sufferings for the good of the Church
. I am here, for the
first time, after years of working with the parishioners and the children at
our school.”

Now, he told L’Osservatore Romano, “I can no longer move my arms
or legs and I know I will lose my speech and later maybe the ability to
breathe.”  He noted that more people than ever are coming to him for the
Sacrament of Reconciliation

Lou Gehrig’s disease is a serious neuromuscular
disorder that causes muscle weakness, disability and eventually death.

*Father Luigi in a 2004 photo.

If you
want a keener sense of what Father Luigi is speaking of when he says I am came
offer my sufferings for the Church, then I would suggest you read Pope John Paul II’s 1984 encyclical, Salvifici
, where he deals with notions of suffering and how it can be redemptive. That is, how suffering can be useful for the salvation of the work if we unite
our suffering to that of Christ’s. Putting suffering to good use otherwise it will eat you alive and deaden you affectively and spiritually. If not redemptive then it’s all-consuming and verging on nihilistic.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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