Did anyone else happen to see the pics in the papers about the women who brought the assisted-suicide case before the Supreme Court? If you did, I hope you're as disturbed as I am. I'm not able to track down a pic right now, but these women (all about 60+) were enraptured that their "right to die" had been protected. They actually were ecstatic, one of them thrusting her fists in the air like Rocky after he finished a run. It was disgusting. I mean, we are praising the right to die . I cannot imagine a life so horrible that death would be something I would be this enthusiastic about, and believe me, I'm not just talking out the side of my mouth here. I do know something about terrific pain and suffering, thank you very much. And there's no way I would ever, ever, ever want to voluntarily commit suicide. Besides thar, the reasoning for the Oregon law are specious at best. Pain today can be controlled very well (as I well know) by IV narcotics and other drugs that can make you, if not pain-free, then you're pretty close (like 98%). There is no pain so horrible that we can't treat it. There's hospice care to ease the natural process of dying. There's no reason to have this law.
People are so afraid of suffering anymore. It wasn't always so. St. Polycarp, a first century martyr and bishop of Smyrna, wrote this prayer before his death:
Lord God Almighty, Father of Jesus Christ...I bless you because you have thought me worthy (emphasis mine)...to be numbered among the martyrs and to drink out of the cup Your Anointed has drunk from...For this and all your blessings I praise you and give you glory, through the eternal high priest, Jesus Christ the heavenly, your dear Child.
Even up to our age, the late John Paul the Great was the foremost teacher on how to live with suffering. Life does not become meaningless just because we deem it so. Life is not defined by our ability to walk, talk, speak, or go to the movies. Life is defined by love. And as long as we can love, then God is with us. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta also had this to say on suffering:
Try to increase your knowledge of the mystery of redemption. This knowledge will lead you to love, and love will make you share through your sacrifice in the passion of Christ. My dear children, without suffering our work would just be social work--very good and helpful, but it would not be the work of Jesus Christ, not part of the redemption. Jesus wanted to help us by sharing our life, our loneliness, our agony and death. All that He has taken upon Himself and has carried it in the darkest night. Only be being one with us has He redeemed us. We are able to do the same....to take upon myself some of [the poor's] sufferings.
Redemptive Suffering is a Catholic doctrine I'm quite fond of, and I would hope that more people would study it and embrace it as a concept. If the Son of God could not escape suffering and pain, how can we expect to? And how can we say 'no' to God at the end, in a final act of Satan's non serviam ? How much pride can we as human beings have? It seems like there is no limit to it. At least not in Oregon.
Our bodies are not our own, St. Paul tells us. Yet we contiually act as if they were. What arrogance, or rather, what despair overcomes these people so that they feel their lives are no longer worth living when they deem themselves not functional enough, or in too much pain? God can use everything we give him--and when we are done giving Him all that we can, He will take us home. But not before then.