Bulletin (March 27, 2005)

On behalf of Fr. Ramon, Deacons Ted and Abel and all those who serve here at Holy Family Parish, I wish each of you a Blessed Easter. Back in the fourth century, St. John Chrysostom gave an Easter homily which expresses that wish. Here is part of what he had to say:

First and last alike receive your reward;
rich and poor, rejoice together!
Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!
You that have kept the fast, and you that have not,
rejoice today for the Table is richly laden!
Feast royally on it, the calf is a fatted one.
Let no one go away hungry.  Partake, all, of the cup of faith.
Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!
Let no one grieve at his poverty,
for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again;
for forgiveness has risen from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free.
He has destroyed it by enduring it.
He destroyed Hell when He descended into it.
He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh.

O death, where is thy sting?
O Hell, where is thy victory?
Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!
Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!
Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead;
for Christ having risen from the dead,
is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!

As we celebrate Easter, I want to thank all those who supported our parish Capital Campaign. Because of your generosity, this week we were able to write a check for $44,649.22 to cancel the debt on the school and Ailbe House boilers. Also, we paid $5,000 toward our debt on the Bradley property. Because we are paying off our past debts, the Archdiocese Parochial Revolving Fund has given approval for a loan to renovate the ground level of our parish school. This renovation will make our school much more attractive by repairing the rest rooms and making them handicapped accessible. It will provide a secure space for BASS (before and after school child care), a room for pre-K (which currently meets in the rectory basement), tutoring spaces and additional storage space. The renovation will also provide a meeting place for receptions after weddings, funerals, quinceañeras and other parish events.

Like many of you this past week, I have focused much thought and prayer on Terri Schiavo, a young woman slowly dying of hunger and thirst. Her Way of the Cross has touched us because we will face similar decisions for ourselves or for loved ones. As a priest I have accompanied many families in that difficult moment. It is never an easy decision. A group of young Catholics (referring to themselves as Generation X) wrote an interesting statement. Here is part of what they said:

Pope John Paul II stated a little over a year ago that nutrition and hydration, even when administered through medical assistance, remain “a natural means of preserving life, not a medical act.” In short, eating and drinking are common to every living human. “Death by starvation or dehydration is, in fact, the only possible outcome as a result of their withdrawal,” the Holy Father continued. “In this sense it ends up becoming, if done knowingly and willingly, true and proper euthanasia by omission.” Thus we denounce the starvation and dehydration of Terri Schindler-Schiavo as the deliberate euthanasia of a disabled woman.

William Anderson, who is a lecturer at Harvard University and Senior Psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital, made an observation which I would like to quote in full:

THE CHIPS ARE DOWN. We have had a surfeit of due process. It is now well past time to consider the facts which process has willfully ignored. There is no reason, medical, moral, or legal, to refrain from an attempt to provide Terri Schiavo with orally administered liquids. There are only two possible explanations for having employed gastric tube feeding. Either (1) her neurologic damage has brought about a swallowing dysfunction with danger of aspiration pneumonia; or (2) it was simply a matter of convenience to avoid labor intensive hand feeding.

In either case, no medical reason now exists to refuse a trial of natural drinking. She may have impaired swallowing function, but that at its worst cannot be as bad as death by dehydration. Allowing her to drink water would be the definitive test of swallowing function. She may be able to swallow water and other clear liquids, in which case she will avoid death by dehydration, even if she later succumbs to malnutrition. Or she may be able to swallow pureed food, which will avoid death by malnutrition. Or she may not be able to swallow water without aspiration into the lungs, and so would develop pneumonia, and have a quicker and more peaceful death.

As to legal concerns, a guardian may refuse any medical treatment, but drinking water is not such a procedure. It is not within the power of a guardian to withhold it, and not in the power of a rational court to prohibit it. The moral case speaks for itself. When we awaken from this queasy nightmare, people will ask how it could have been that a court could post a police officer by the bedside to insure that a dying woman succumbed to a ghastly death by thirst.

De parte del Padre Ramón, el Diacono Abel y todos que sirven aquí en Holy Family, deseo que todos Vds. tengan una Pascua de Resurrección llena de alegría. En el siglo cuatro, San Juan Crisóstomo dio una homilía que expresa este deseo. Aquí hay parte de lo que el dijo:

¿Hay algunos cansados del ayuno?
¡Que se acerquen para recibir su pago!

Si unos han trabajado desde la primera hora,
que reciban su premio merecido.
Si unos han llegado a la tercera hora,
¡Que se unan con gratitud a la Fiesta!
Y el que llegó a la sexta hora,
que no dude, porque no aguantará ninguna perdida.
Y si alguien ha tardado hasta la novena hora,
que no vacile; sino que entre también.
Y el que llegó a la undécima hora,
que no tenga miedo a causa de su tardanza.
Porque el Señor es bondadoso y recibe el ultimo como el primero.
Da descanso a él que ha venido a la undécima hora
igual que a el que ha trabajado desde la primera.

¡Primero y último, reciban su premio, 
rico y pobre, alégrense juntos!
¡Enérgico y perezoso, celebren el día!
¡Vds. que han guardado el ayuno, y Vds. que no lo han hecho,
alégrense hoy porque la Mesa está preparada con abundancia! 

Al celebrar Pascua de Resurrección, quisiera agradecer a todos que hayan apoyado nuestra Campaña. A causa de su generosidad, esta semana hemos podido escribir un cheque de $44,649.22 para cancelar la deuda de los calentones de la escuela y la Casa Ailbe. También hemos pago $5,000 para la deuda del lote al sur del parking principal. Como estamos pagando nuestras deudas, la Arquidiócesis ha aprobado un préstamo para renovar el primer nivel de nuestra escuela parroquial. Esta renovación incluye la reparación de los baños, espacio para tutores, dos aulas para BASS (cuidado de niños antes y después de la escuela) y pre-Kinder (que ahora se reúne en el sótano de la rectoría) y espacio para almacenaje. También proveerá un pequeño salón para recepciones después de bodas, funerales, quinceañeras y otras actividades parroquiales.