Monthly Archives: August 2011

A Prayer for Purity

Our Lady of Good Counsel
Image via Wikipedia

O Most loving Father, we need You to attain purity and the joy it brings, for without You we can do nothing. Teach us Your children to reverence our bodies and the bodies of our sisters and brothers in Christ. Help us to recognize in each human person an incarnate spirit, an image of God, a sacred temple of the Holy Spirit, a person worth all the blood of Christ, a child of God to be loved with Your benevolent love. Teach us to reverence the sacredness of human sexuality, an icon of Your divine self-giving and divine creative power. Deliver us, Father, from the evil of seeing the bodies of Your daughters and sons as mere things and objects, and the evil of using them for our own selfish ends. Forgive us our sins which destroy our friendship with You, the source of all our happiness. O Most beloved Mother, through your all-powerful prayer, help us to live with the dignity of a child of God. May our reason and free will be the masters of our feelings and desires. And may Jesus be our one Master and Lord.


(Composed by Dr. Raul Nidoy, taken from today’s bulletin, Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, Plymouth, MI)

Legalizing Euthanasia by Omission

I got this article in my inbox thsi afternoon from Zenit. It’s certainly worth taking a look at, as more and more legislation is being passed to undermine the dignity of life. It’s not so much a question of what the law specifies, but what it allows.

Legalizing Euthanasia by Omission: And Making It a Doctor’s Order by E. Christian Brugger

DENVER, Colorado, AUG. 24, 2011 ( A problematic new end-of-life medical form is rapidly gaining ascendency in U.S. healthcare. It is called the “POLST” document. (In my own state of Colorado, it’s called a MOST document.) The acronym stands for Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment. (MOST = “Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment;” its provisions are almost identical across states.) Click here to see an example of a standard POLST document.

The document consolidates on a single form provisions formerly dispersed over several documents: it acts as a living will specifying the scope of medical interventions a patient wishes in case of incapacitation; it makes specific provision for a do-not-resuscitate order (DNR); it has a box to check in the event a patient wishes to refuse treatment with antibiotics; and it allows a patient to designate a proxy decision maker.

Similar to other advanced directives, patients complete the POLST form when their capacities are in tact and the document becomes effective when consciousness is compromised.

But different from older-type directives, the POLST document has provision for the signature of a physician (or physician assistant). This gives the designations on the document the force of an actionable medical order.

The national trend, supported by Compassion & Choices(formerly the Hemlock Society [!]), is to structure state laws on medical directives in accord with the POLST paradigm (as illustrated by its recent adoption by states such as California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, New York, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin).

Why is the document problematic? I will speak from first-hand knowledge of the legislation that normalized the document in Colorado. I believe my criticisms are relevant to all POLST-type laws in the U.S.

The Colorado law (signed in summer 2010) abrogated an extremely important condition on living wills going back two decades. The former law authorized adults to direct medical professionals to withhold or withdraw life-support only on the condition that they were terminally ill (or in a so-called persistent vegetative state [PVS]). So for purposes of the law the refusal was conditioned by the fact that a patient was already dying. (The PVS provision was accepted under the false assumption that it was a terminal condition.) Forty-five percent of the states in the U.S. presently impose similar statutory limitations on the removal of life-support.
The POLST-type legislation removes the condition that a patient is terminally ill or diagnosed in a PVS before a refusal order is actionable. In other words, the new law permits any adult patient to refuse any treatment at any time for any reason in the event they lack decisional capacity; and health care professionals, directed by a doctor’s medical order, ordinarily would be (and are) required to carry out the order. [Imagine what this would mean for the majority of suicide attempts… A person could file a POLST form with the local hospitals, commit some sort of self-harming act which would render them unconcious or incapacitated, and then the hospital staff would be bound to follow the directives of the patient in not providing care.] Although the law for strategic purposes is rhetorically formulated as bearing upon end-of-life medical decisions, it sets forth no requirement that a patient’s refusal of life-support must be limited to end-of-life conditions.

If someone refuses life-support with the specific aim (or intention) of causing his or her own death, the person is choosing suicide. Morally speaking this is no different from ingesting a lethal dose of medication, or sitting in a running car with the windows closed and a hose stretching from the tail pipe to the cabin. “Why are you doing X?” If the answer is: “To die,” then the person is intending self-killing, suicide, and that’s always wrong.

But isn’t it the case that terminally ill patients also can direct the refusal of life-support for purposes of bringing about their deaths? It is true, the condition of terminality does rule out the possibility that patients will be motivated by suicidal intentions when taking advantage of the liberties permitted by the older-type law. But in establishing the refusal of life-support in the context of medical conditions diagnosed as “terminal,” the older-type law privileged as the normative context for refusing life-support the motive “to-be-free-from-burdens-in-my-remaining-days-of-life.” Suffering from a condition from which one was dying, the law granted a person the civil right to refuse procedures that prolonged the dying process.

This is not the place to rehearse the ethical argument for the legitimate removal of life-support. Suffice it to say that until recently, common ethical opinion accepted the judgment that if some treatment was futile or excessively burdensome, then a person legitimately could refuse the treatment, even if its refusal promised the hastening of death. [Note: the procedure, not the life, is judged burdensome.] One intends to be free of the burden of painful, risky, or futile treatments during one’s final days of life, and one accepts that one’s death may be hastened as an unintended consequence.

The POLST-type law grants adults the civil right to direct healthcare professionals to remove life-sustaining procedures when those procedures are not futile and when the burden imposed by them would be offset by a reasonable hope of recovery. It juridically extends the ordinary context for the refusal of life-support to include the motive of bringing about death. Without using the term, the new law authorizes euthanasia.

This is not the only problem with the POLST model, but it’s the most serious problem that the model introduces. Other problems, such as the document’s provision for the removal of food and water from patients for whom they reasonably would be judged to be ordinary/proportionate care, [by including this provision, the document is designating food and water as being outside of the standard of care or, in other words, an option which the designated healthcare proxy would have the authority to request or decline as he or she sees fit — meaning there would be no legal battle possible as happened in the case of Terri Schiavo. If the proxy decided to end food and water provision, that’s that.] or the simplistic designation, “No Antibiotics,” whether or not such drugs are medically indicated, already infect older type documents.

When the Colorado Catholic Conference, which I assisted, was fighting (ultimately unsuccessfully) at the state capital in Denver to amend the POLST-type legislation before passage to reintroduce the condition of terminality, we argued that the legislation as written was effectively legalizing euthanasia by omission. Some legislators believed that we were being alarmist. They thought that because physician-assisted suicide was not legal in Colorado, nor explicitly legalized by the proposed legislation, we had nothing to fear. We said we thought this was short-sighted, that groups like Compassion & Choices would find fertile soil in the law for advancing its aims. Most were unconvinced.

On August 17, 2011, Compassion & Choices (CC) launched a nation-wide public education campaign entitled “Peace at Life’s End – Anywhere.” The euphemism means “legal self-killing anywhere in the U.S.” (The press conference was held in Denver, Colorado!) The central purpose, indeed the sole purpose of the campaign is to tell people everywhere that they can kill themselves legally anywhere in the U.S.; all they’ve got to do is to refuse life-support, in particular food and water. The Web site reads:

One method of peaceful dying…universally available, legal, safe, painless and suitable for a gentle parting in one’s own home…is the purposeful refusal of food and fluids, in medical jargon known as voluntarily stopping eating and drinking (VSED).

“VSED,” its press release stated, “is a legally recognized option for mentally competent adults who wish to end their suffering.” And best of all, “it requires no special laws or regulations. VSED is legal — for patients and their caregivers — today, in every state.” [Isn’t voluntary starvation an indication of mental disorder? Commonly known as anorexia?]

The POLST document is not a precondition for the success of CC’s campaign. Any living will that permits the removal of food and water would be adequate. But the new document sure helps.

If the POLST model is not already legally recognized in your state, five to one chance that legislation is being drafted at your state house as we speak. You might call your legislator and find out.

E. Christian Brugger is a Senior Fellow of Ethics and director of the Fellows Program at the Culture of Life Foundation, and the J. Francis Cardinal Stafford Chair of Moral Theology at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, Colorado.

On Death and Rollercoasters

Skyhawk - DSCN9430

Cedar Point was fun. I love rollercoasters. Ironically, I’m also scared of both heights and falling. And I am part-Houdini in the fact that no matter how tight people strap me down, I end up being able to wiggle out of the restraints. So while everyone else is waving their hands in the air, I am — as Damien points out — putting claw marks in the grab bar … and laughing. πŸ™‚ And I didn’t get a good reply to this in confession: if I am standing before some monstrosity of a fear-inducing ride that my friend are bent on torturing me with, is it taking the Lord’s name in vain to say “Oh Dear God!” when you follow that up with “Please help me not die on that thing!” and a few Hail Marys??

Erwin and Rob on Dragster - DSCN9394

When thinking of my experiences with these rollercoasters, it always seems to follow the same formula. I look at one of them and am not sure about it. As I stand in line and contemplate it further, I get anxious and don’t think that I can handle it. I pray my way through this and end up making myself go despite my fear and try to trust that God would not allow me to be the one person to die at Cedar Point that day (despite the fact that I’ve always felt that I would die on some freak rollercoaster accident… LOL). Then, I end up having a lot of fun and realize that my fears were silly. (Or maybe not “silly,” after all, as a kid, I’ve been on several rollercoasters and rides where the restraints have had mechanical failures and I’ve had to wrap myself around the grab bars to keep from falling out of the ride. That’s gotta induce some long-term trauma or something….) And I think about death, and how one’s view of death is typically like my view of rollercoasters. From far away, it might not look fearsome, but the larger it looms and the more proximal it is, the greater your anxiety. You try to find ways to avoid it or delay it. It’s not a ride you want to go on, but you are in line already and the wait until your turn gets shorter with every passing minute. You pray and this helps to alleviate your fears a bit. Eventually, the time comes and you put your trust in God and get on the ride. And it ends up being so much better than you could have thought and you wonder why you were afraid to begin with. Had you known at the beginning of the line what you knew at the end, you would have eagerly looked forward to the trip.

And this is one of the many reasons why I know that God is alive and present in my life. I am in that line. But I am not afraid, because He has given me such grace and such peace. And while I know that I am securely fastened and safe in His hands, it’s nice to know that He allows me to cling back.

Cardinal Pierre de BΓ©rulle

Fleur-De-Lis, Cinq

Other than a recommendation from Jesus Himself, what better character reference can you have outside of THIS:
“His disciple, St. Vincent de Paul, said of him: ‘He is one of the most saintly priests I have known,’ and his friend St. Francis de Sales declared: ‘He is everything which I should desire to be myself’.”

I stumbled upon this guy when reading, “The Shape of Catholic Theology,” by Fr. Aidan Nichols, who notes him as asserting that “the hypostatic union between the divine Word and Jesus’ humanity is the exemplar and prototype of all union with God,” (310).

The Catholic Encyclopedia gives us more information about him. He lived at the turn of the 17th century and was devoted to the conversion of Protestants. We already know that he kept pretty rarified company with St. Francis and St. Vincent, but he was also instrumental to bringing the Carmelites to France. His life’s work was to make Jesus Christ “better known and more loved.” If that’s not enough to convince you that this is a guy worth looking into, HE DIED WHILE SAYING MASS!

I’ve heard my priests say this before, that if we truly knew God, in that moment of knowledge, we would die from the overwhelming love. I think that might be what happened here. What a way to go! However, I wouldn’t want to be one of the parishioners at that Mass. Traumatized for life.

Word of the Day! St. Abbo

The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church

Another catholidorkerrific idea from Yours Truly! πŸ™‚

I was looking at that nice, big Christian dictionary on my shelf and thought about what a shame it was that I didn’t pull it out more often. Then, I was struck with an idea! I had been toying with the concept of reading it from cover to cover, but really, what is the fun in that if you cannot share your findings with friends? So I thought that I would bless you nice folk with the fruits of my reading and select a “word of the day” — something that piques my interest or an entry with which I was previously unfamiliar. I won’t recreate the entire entry, but just lay out some basics.

Let’s get started! πŸ™‚

St. Abbo

  • c. 945 – 1004
  • Abbot of Fleury, France
  • Helped in the restoration of monasticism in England
  • Notable works: Β Passio S. Eadmundi and Quaestiones Grammaticales
  • Supported the Cluniac Reform, was an ardent defender of Papal authority and the freedom of monasteries from episcopal and secular interference
  • He was killed in a revolt occasioned by the reform of a priory
  • He also wrote on logic, math, astronomy and the lives of the Popes
  • Feast day: Β 13 Nov

A Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan

The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church

A Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan by Father John McCloskey
Titles highlighted in green are ones I own. If I’ve read it, the date of completion will follow the entry.

Catechism of the Catholic Church – Catholicism Explained/Theology
Adams – The Spirit of Catholicism – Catholicism Explained/Theology
Augustine – City of God – Spiritual Classics
Augustine – Confessions of St. Augustine – Spiritual Classics
Aumann – Spiritual Theology – Spiritual Reading
Baur – Frequent Confession – Spiritual Reading
Baur – In Silence with God – Spiritual Reading
Belloc – The Great Heresies – History and Culture
Belloc – How The Reformation Happened – History and Culture
Belloc – Survivals and New Arrivals – History and Culture
Benedict XVI – Opera Omnia – Misc
Benson – Lord of the World – Literary Classics
Bernanos – The Diary of a Country Priest – Literary Classics
Bouyer – Spirit and Forms of Protestantism – Catholicism Explained/Theology
Boylan – Difficulties in Mental Prayer – Spiritual Reading
Boylan – Tremendous Lover – Spiritual Reading
Burke – Covenanted Happiness – Spiritual Reading
Carroll – History of Christendom (All Volumes) – History and Culture
St. Catherine – Little Talks with God (modernized version of “The Dialogues”) – Spiritual Classics
Cervantes – Don Quixote – Literary Classics
Chautard – Soul of Apostolate – Spiritual Reading
Chesterton – Everlasting Man – Spiritual Classics
Chesterton – Orthodoxy – Spiritual Classics
Chesterton – St. Thomas Aquinas
Chesterton – St. Francis of Assisi – Holy Men and Women
Chevrot – Simon Peter
Cizek – He Leadeth Me – Spiritual Reading Β 4/7/2011
Crocker – Triumph – History and Culture
Caussaude – Abandonment to Divine Providence – Spiritual Reading
Dante – Divine Comedy – Literary Classics
Dawson – Christianity and European Culture – History and Culture
Day – Long Loneliness – Holy Men and Women
de la Palma – The Sacred Passion – Spiritual Reading
de Sales – Introduction to Devout Life – Spiritual Reading
de Sales – Treatise on the Love of God – Spiritual Reading
d’Elbee – I Believe in Love – Spiritual Reading
Eliot – Christianity and Culture – Literary Classics
Endo – Silence – Literary Classics
Enzler – My Other Self – Misc
Escriva – Christ is Passing By – Spiritual Reading
Escriva – Way, Furrow, Forge – Spiritual Reading
Escriva – Way of the Cross – Spiritual Reading
Faber – All for Jesus – Spiritual Reading
Garrigou-Lagrange – Three Ages of Interior Life, I – Spiritual Reading
Garrigou-Lagrange – Three Ages of Interior Life, II – Spiritual Reading
Granada – Sinner’s Guide – Spiritual Reading
Guardini – The Lord
Guardini – End of the Modern World – History and Culture
Hahn – Rome Sweet Home – Catholicism Explained/Theology
Hannam – God’s Philosophers – History
Hildebrand – Transformation
Hildebrand – The Privilege of Being a Woman
Holzner – Paul of Tarsus – Spiritual Reading
Hopkins – Hopkins: Poetry and Prose – Literary Classics
John XXIII – Journal of a Soul – Holy Men and Women
John of the Cross – Dark Night of the Soul – Spiritual Classics
John Paul II – Opera Omnia – Misc
Kelly – Rediscovering Catholicism – Spiritual Reading 2/2/2011
Kempis – The Imitation of Christ – Spiritual Reading
Knox – Enthusiasm – History and Culture
Kreeft – Christianity for Modern Pagans – Catholicism Explained/Theology
Leclercq – Love of Learning and the Desire for God – History and Culture
Lewis – Problem with Pain – Spiritual Classics 7/18/2009
Lewis – Mere Christianity – Spiritual Classics 6/30/2009
Lewis – Screwtape Letters – Spiritual Classics 11/16/2007
Liguori – 12 Steps to Holiness and Salvation – Spiritual Reading
Liguori – The Practice of the Love of God – Spiritual Reading
Liguori – Uniformity with God’s Will – Spiritual Reading
Martinez – True Devotion to the Holy Spirit – Spiritual Reading
Montfort – True Devotion – Spiritual Reading
Lovasik – The Hidden Power of Kindness – Spiritual Reading
Manzoni – Betrothed – Spiritual Reading
Masson – Companion Guide to Rome – Misc
Merton – Seven Storey Mountain – Holy Men and Women
Monti – King’s Good Servant but God’s First
More – Sadness of Christ – Spiritual Reading
Muggeridge – Something Beautiful for God – Holy Men and Women
Neuhaus – Catholic Matters – Misc. 9/26/2010
Newman – Apologia Pro Vita Sua – Holy Men and Women
Newman – Essay on Development of Christian Doctrine – Catholicism Explained/Theology
Newman – Idea of a University – Literary Classics
Newman – The Rule of Our Warfare
O’Connor – Flannery O’Connor: Complete Stories – Literary Classics
Ott – Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma – Catholicism Explained/Theology
Oursler – The Greatest Story Ever Told – Spiritual Classics
Percy – Lost in Cosmos – Literary Classics
Percy – Love in the Ruins – Literary Classic
Perquin – Abba Father – Spiritual Reading
Pieper – The Four Cardinal Virtues – Catholicism Explained/Theology
Phillipe – Opera Omnia
Plus – Winning Souls for Christ – Spiritual Reading
Rice – 50 Questions on the Natural Law – Misc.
Rohrbach – Conversation with Christ – Spiritual Reading
Scupoli – Spiritual Combat – Spiritual Reading
Sertillanges – Intellectual Life – Misc
Sheed – Theology for Beginners – Spiritual Reading
Sheed – To Know Christ Jesus – Spiritual Reading
Sheen – Life of Christ – Spiritual Reading
Sheen – Three to Get Married – Spiritual Reading
Sienkiewicz – Quo Vadis – Literary Classics
Stein – Woman – Misc
Suarez – Mary of Nazareth – Holy Men and Women
Tanqueray – Spiritual Life – Spiritual Reading
Mother Teresa – Meditations from a Simple Path – Spiritual Classics
St. Teresa of Avila – Interior Castle – Spiritual Classics
Teresa of Avila-Way of Perfection – Spiritual Classics
St. Therese of Lisieux – Story of a Soul – Spiritual Classics
St. Thomas Aquinas – My Way of Life – Spiritual Classics
Tolkien – Lord of Rings – Literary Classics
Trochu – Cure of Ars – Holy Men and Women
Kristen Lavransdatter 1 – Literary Classics
Kristen Lavransdatter 2 – Literary Classics
Kristen Lavransdatter 3 – Literary Classics
Vann – The Divine Pity
Walsh – Our Lady of Fatima – History and Culture
Waugh – Brideshead Revisited – Literary Classics
Wegemer – Thomas More – Holy Men and Women
Weigel – Witness to Hope – Holy Men and Women

Last Chance Mass

Cyril and Methodius

This weekend I did … pretty much nothing. I didn’t feel very well and spent the weekend on the futon watching episode after episode of Kyle XY, followed by (when I had seen all the episodes) 17 Kids and Counting. Exciting times.

I didn’t make it off the couch and into the shower in time for 10:15 am Mass. Then, I got hungry and didn’t have the requisite hour fast for the 12:15 pm Mass. Ditto the 5 pm.

I was still not feeling well and permenently affixed to the couch at the end of the night. Time for the Last Chance Mass. Ss. Cyril and Methodius Slovak Church has an 8:30 pm Mass on Sunday night. I made it over there, but was still in my shorts and T-shirt. So, I hid in the chapel with people who were there for Reconciliation. It was quite nice. All the lights were off, so we were praying in the light of the vigil candle.

As Mass proceeded, however, I felt increasingly dizzy and nauseated. Finally, I felt that I had to leave early while I was still able to drive home. So, shortly after Communion began, I headed to the car.

And entered a monsoon. It was *pouring* out. I was soaked in 5 seconds. What is this? A second baptism? Is God angry I left early?


I *love* storms. And heavy rains. I thought it was great. πŸ™‚ So, I was the idiot heading to her car (at the far, far corner of the lot) with her hands orans, giggling at the water. And I felt a little bit better. πŸ™‚