Bulletin (April 3, 2005)

Let’s start out with a little uncle bragging. On Saturday (April 2) I celebrated my niece’s wedding. Since her fiancé attends Blessed Sacrament Church, we did the ceremony there. Julius Jacob is from Tanzania and, although my niece spent some time there doing missionary work, she and Julius met here. My brother Mike is delighted about his son-in-law and the rest of us enjoy our new “nephew.” Besides the picture of Julius and Sara, here are a couple of pictures showing him crab fishing with my brother Louis and Samwise.

The celebrations of Holy Week and Easter were beautiful, but I do want to apologize for some unfortunate foul-ups. We put the wrong Mass times for the Easter Vigil in the bulletin. Evidently the template for the Wednesday evening Masses was used and it also got onto the voice message when people called the parish. I apologize to those who were inconvenienced. Also, we had some problems with parking, although it seems that the presence of volunteer patrols has helped make our parking lots safer and more orderly. We did tow a couple of cars that were double parked. Hopefully, word will get around that it is not acceptable to block someone else’s car.

Last Sunday some took note of a prayer from our General Intercessions: That Jesus, who conquered the power of death, may give our society the strength to eliminate the evils of abortion, assisted suicide, and capital punishment, we pray to the Lord... To some it sounded like an equivalency between the three acts. Although each involves the taking of a human life, they are different. Abortion involves the taking of an innocent human life. As the Catechism states, “Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.” Similarly, assisted suicide (euthanasia) cannot be justified: “Whatever its motives and means, direct euthanasia consists in putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick, or dying persons. It is morally unacceptable.” Regarding capital punishment, the Catechism states:

Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor. If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person. Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm - without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself - the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity "are very rare, if not practically non-existent."

In my pastoral ministry I tend to concentrate more on the issues of abortion and euthanasia. It is not that I think capital punishment is an unimportant issue, but few of my parishioners face it in a direct and personal way. I have only known one man (a high official in our criminal justice system) who had to make a decision about his own participation in carrying out the death penalty. On the other hand, abortion and euthanasia are matters that I often hear in confession or counseling situations.

The prayer, which I took from the Priests for Life website, had a further dimension. It asked the Lord to “give our society the strength to eliminate (these) evils...” We do need to ask God’s help to form a society where young moms (and dads) will feel supported and assisted to make a decision to accept a child which comes unplanned, where the sick will not feel so unwanted that they are tempted to assisted suicide and where we have other means of punishing heinous criminals without recourse to the death penalty.

I will conclude with a couple of local events which might help in living Jesus’ teachings. Sally A. Winn, Vice President of Feminists for Life of America, will present "Refuse to Choose: Reclaiming Feminism" on April 6, 2005 at 7:00 p.m. at Seattle University, LeRoux Conference Center, Student Center, Rm. 160. Winn knows the challenges of pregnancy and parenting in college first hand. In addition to covering 200 years of pro-life feminism, Winn’s lecture emphasizes solutions for pregnant and parenting students and staff. On May 1 the Challenge Clubs will present the 2nd annual Pure Fashion Show, a demonstration that girls can be fashionable AND modest. It will be on Sunday, May 1 from 2-4 at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue.

Prayers for the eternal rest of Terri Schindler Shiavo who died on March 31. May her soul and the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace. And may her life cause all of us to reflect that each human life has dignity, no matter what its condition. I personally pray for our society. We have entered a new and deeper darkness.

"We become more numerous every time we are killed: Sanguis martyrum semen christianorum" (Tertullian, Apologeticum 50 - PL 1, 534). It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain. - Abraham Lincoln

En la parte inglesa mencioné unos acontecimientos. Uno es bien alegre – la boda de mi sobrina Sara. El otro muy triste – la muerte de Terri Schiavo. Ha habido tanta atención enfocada en esa situación triste que todos nos hemos identificado con ella, como si fuera una hermana, una hija o una sobrina. Da mucha pena que la han dejado morir de hambre y sed. El Santo Padre ha aclarado que no se puede considerar comida y agua como “medios extraordinarios” para la preservación de vida – aun si son administrados por medio de un tubo. He leído artículos por médicos que dicen que hubiera sido posible darle líquidos con una cuchara, pero no lo han hecho. Tenemos que rezar por nuestra sociedad. Parece que estamos entrado una etapa de mucha oscuridad. Aquí es la enseñanza de Cristo sobre la eutanasia:

Por eutanasia se entiende una acción o una omisión que por su naturaleza, o en la intención, causa la muerte, con el fin de eliminar cualquier dolor. La eutanasia se sitúa pues en el nivel de las intenciones o de los métodos usados. Ahora bien, es necesario reafirmar con toda firmeza que nada ni nadie puede autorizar la muerte de un ser humano inocente, sea feto o embrión, niño o adulto, anciano, enfermo incurable o agonizante. Nadie además puede pedir este gesto homicida para sí mismo o para otros confiados a su responsabilidad, ni puede consentirlo explícita o implícitamente. Ninguna autoridad puede legítimamente imponerlo ni permitirlo. Se trata en efecto de una violación de la ley divina, de una ofensa a la dignidad de la persona humana, de un crimen contra la vida, de un atentado contra la humanidad.

Podría también verificarse que el dolor prolongado e insoportable, razones de tipo afectivo u otros motivos diversos, induzcan a alguien a pensar que puede legítimamente pedir la muerte o procurarla a otros. Aunque en casos de ese género la responsabilidad personal pueda estar disminuida o incluso no existir, sin embargo el error de juicio de la conciencia -- aunque fuera incluso de buena fe -- no modifica la naturaleza del acto homicida, que en sí sigue siendo siempre inadmisible. Las súplicas de los enfermos muy graves que alguna vez invocan la muerte no deben ser entendidas como expresión de una verdadera voluntad de eutanasia; éstas en efecto son casi siempre peticiones angustiadas de asistencia y de afecto. Además de los cuidados médicos, lo que necesita el enfermo es el amor, el calor humano y sobrenatural, con el que pueden y deben rodearlo todos aquellos que están cercanos, padres e hijos, médicos y enfermeros.