April 2017 Meeting

Dignity of Life, from Conception until Natural Death

Opening Prayer

Lord, teach us to pray:
“Our Father…”

The Reading
(To be read by the Leader)

“God created humanity in His image and likeness, in His divine image He created him; male and female He created them….God looked at everything He had made, and He found it very good, (Gen. 1, 27, 31)”

Brothers, last month we spoke about the pros and cons of having a “living will” and how though they can be very helpful in a stressful situation their shortcoming is the ability to anticipate all possible health scenarios. An alternative to the “living will” is the “proxy directive”. This is a signed legal document giving a trusted family member or close friend, who is very aware of our wishes, the ability to make end of life treatment decisions in a manner they believe we would want. The final advice on this mode of being prepared for an end of life scenario is to avoid blanket statements that reject certain types of care in all circumstances. This non-blanket statement (proxy directive), leaves the latitude for our loved ones, (our proxy), to react to perhaps unique and unforeseen circumstances that may
evolve out of our illness.

So what does the Catholic Church say about the inevitable potential for and reality of the suffering and discomfort that can arise when an individual is very ill? “The Church does not consider suffering good in and of itself and we need to do everything in our power to eradicate or alleviate it.” There is no doubt that prolonged or severe suffering can have a very challenging effect on our human psyche and on our general outlook on life itself. Perhaps you have heard a loved one utter a statement such as: “I just wish it was over, I can’t take this, I am ready to go. These words do not negate the goodness of the individual; they amplify the effect that prolonged suffering can have on one’s perspective. How do we deal with inevitability of suffering both at the end of life and during the normal course of our lives which can offer their own brand of suffering whether it be relational, financial, conflict or illness induced? Suffering is a very real part of our life journey.

The Reflection
(To be read by the Leader)

“When suffering has meaning for the sufferer it helps to make it bearable. Christians believe that Christ brought humanity back to God through His passion, death and Resurrection.” Brothers this is who we are as Catholic men. Suffering, and many of us have entered into it freely for the sake of our loved ones can be very meaningful and redemptive when it has meaning for the one who is suffering. On a daily basis we may accept different forms of suffering freely because we know it

will make the lives of our loved ones better. How often have you done without something you felt you really needed so that one of your children or loved ones could have what they needed for themselves? A form of suffering that; when done in charity for the good of the
other, can be very consoling for the one who is doing without.

Catholics also believe that when we unite our suffering to Christ’s with love, we participate in His saving mission. When I visit an individual who is suffering greatly and I see there is faith I invite them to offer their suffering for the souls of those they love, those who have gone before them and those who will remain behind them. This, at times assists them in accepting the challenges they face because their suffering now has a purpose or meaning. They are offering their struggle for the good of the other. “Their feelings of anger and discouragement are then replaced by quiet hope, and, surprisingly, even by joy. Suffering is no longer pointless.” I will never forget the moment I watched now St. Jean Paul II arriving in Toronto for World Youth Day in 2002. He was already very ill and suffering greatly. When he came to the door of the plane they had moved a special elevator device over to the door so that he could disembark. The Holy Father quietly refused it and he slowly and painfully made his way down the stairs of the aircraft to the tarmac. I cried like a baby as I watched this silent painful witness of what it is to be a witness and a disciple of Christ, no matter what the circumstances. That day St. John Paul II showed me and the world what it is to suffer, (I would say joyfully and willingly) for the greater glory of God.

Next month we will speak about alternatives to assisted suicide and euthanasia.

“God created humanity in His image and likeness, in His divine image He created him;  Male and female He created them….God looked at everything He had made, and He found it very good, (Gen. 1, 27, 31)”

Meditation Period

(The Leader now invites the members to spend a few moments in silent reflection, as the above text is not meant to be a ready-made answer but a starter for personal reflection on the theme.)

Fraternal Sharing

(The leader now invites the members to share with their Brother Knights any relevant thoughts that came to them during the meditation period.)

Closing Prayer
(Recited by all)

Let us pray:
“Almighty ever-living God, grant that we may always conform our will to yours and serve your majesty in sincerity of heart. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.”