As ecumenical witness in defense of life develops, a great teaching effort is needed to clarify the substantive moral difference between discontinuing medical procedures that may be burdensome, dangerous, or disproportionate to the expected outcome-- what the Catechism of the Catholic Church calls "the refusal of 'over-zealous' treatment" (2278); cf Evangelium Vitae, 65)-- and taking away the ordinary means of preserving life, such as feeding, hydration, and normal medical care. The statement of the United States bishops' pro-life committee, Nutrition and Hydration: Moral and Pastoral Considerations, rightly emphasizes that the omission of nutrition and hydration intended to cause a patient's death must be rejected and that, while giving careful consideration to all the factors involves, the presumption should be in favor of providing medically assisted nutrition and hydration to all patients who need them. To blur this distinction is to introduce a source of countless injustices and much additional anguish, affecting both those already suffering from ill health or the deterioration which comes with age, and their loved ones.
5. In a culture that has difficulty in defining the meaning of life, death, and suffering, the Christian message is the good news of Christ's victory over death and the certain hope of resurrection. The Christian accepts death as the supreme act of obedience to the Father, and is ready to meet death at the "hour" known only to him (cf Mk 3:32). Life is a pilgrimage in faith to the Father, on which we travel in the company of his Son and the saints in heaven. Precisely for this reason, the very real trial of suffering can become a source of good. Through suffering, we actually have a part in Christ's redemptive work for the Church and humanity (cf Salvifici Doloris, 4- 24). This is so when suffering is "experienced for love and with love through sharing, by God's gracious gift and one's one personal and free choice, in the suffering of Christ crucified." (Evangelium Vitae, 67)
The work of Catholic health-care institutions in meeting the physical and spiritual needs of the sick is a form of imitation of Christ who, in the words of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, is "the doctor of the flesh and of the spirit" (Ad Ephesias, 7, 2). Doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel deal with people in their time of trial, when they have an acute sense of life's fragility and precariousness; just when they most resemble the suffering Jesus in Gethsemane and on Calvary. Health- care professionals should always bear in mind that their work is directed to individuals, unique persons in whom God's image is present in a singular way and in whom he has invested his infinite love. The sickness of a family member, friend, or neighbor is a call to Christians to demonstrate true compassion, that gentle and persevering sharing in another's pain. Likewise, the handicapped and those who are ill must never feel that they are a burden; they are persons being visited by the Lord. The terminally ill in particular deserve the solidarity, communion, and affection of those around them; they often need to be able to forgive and to be forgiven, to make peace with God and with others. All priests should appreciate the pastoral importance of celebrating the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, particularly when it is the prelude to the final journey to the Father's house; when its meaning as the sacramentum exeuntium is particularly evident (cf Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1523).
6. An essential feature of support for the unalienable right to life, from conception to natural death, is the effort to provide legal protection for the unborn, the handicapped, the elderly, and those suffering from terminal illness. As bishops, you must continue to draw attention to the relationship of the moral law to constitutional and positive law in your society.: "Laws which legitimize the direct killing of innocent human beings... are in complete opposition to the inviolable right to life proper to every individual; they thus deny the equality of everyone before the law" (Evangelium Vitae, 72). What is at stake here is nothing less than the indivisible truth about the human person on which the Founding Fathers staked your nation's claim to independence. The life of a country is much more than its material development and its power in the world. A nation needs a "soul." It needs the wisdom and courage to overcome the moral ills and spiritual temptations inherent in its march through history. In union with all those who favor a "culture of life" over a "culture of death," Catholics, and especially Catholic legislators, must continue to make their voices heard in the formulation of cultural, economic, political, and legislative projects which, "with respect for all and in keeping with democratic principles, will contribute to the building of a society in which the dignity of each person is recognized and the lives of all are defended and enhanced" (Evangelium Vitae, 90). Democracy stands or falls with the values which it embodies and promotes (cf Evangelium Vitae, 70). In defending life you are defending an original and vital part of the vision on which your country was built. America must become, again, a hospitable society, in which every unborn child and every handicapped or terminally ill person is cherished and enjoys the protection of the law.
7. Dear brother bishops, Catholic moral teaching is an essential part of our heritage of faith; we must see to it that it is faithfully transmitted, and take appropriate measures to guard the faithful from the deceit of opinions which dissent from it (cf Veritatis Splendor, 26 and 113. Although the Church often appears as a sign of contradiction, in defending the whole moral law firmly and humbly she is upholding truths which are indispensable for the good of humanity and for the safeguarding of civilization itself. Our teaching must be clear; it must recognize the drama of the human condition, in which we all struggle with sin and in which we must all strive, with the help of grace, to embrace the good (cf Gaudium et Spes, 13). Our task as teachers is to "show the inviting splendor of that truth which is Jesus Christ himself" (Veritatis Splendor, 83). Living the moral life involves holding fast to the very person of Jesus, partaking of his life and destiny, sharing in his free and loving obedience to the will of the Father.
May your fidelity to the Lord and the responsibility for his Church which he has given you make you personally vigilant to ensure that only sound doctrine of faith and morals is presented as Catholic teaching. Invoking the intercession of Our Lady upon your ministry, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to you and to the priests, religious, and lay faithful of your dioceses.
Within the Divine Heart there are found both justice and mercy. When our first parents were tricked by satan and turned on God in favor of establishing an independent domain within their own human hearts, the justice of God exiled them to the vale of tears, sweat and blood. It ultimately turned out to be a felix culpa, a "happy fault" in as much as it obtained for them and for each one of us, a Redeemer through the mercy of God. Through the suffering and excruciating death of Jesus, God was reconciled to man, and man to God.
Reconciliation, as an experience, is based upon the fact that God, the Creator as well as God, the Loving Father, wishes order in the universe. Despite the fact that the world knows earthquakes, cats chasing mice, spiders catching flies, in the complete picture of creation, it all tends towards unity as conceived in the Divine Mind and experienced within the Divine Heart. In creating the angelic and human person, the loving Father left it up to each person endowed with a free will, to maintain a union with Himself and amongst one another. Lucifer and his legions chose to go their own way. For them, because of their angelic nature, there was no possibility for reconciliation; for human beings, because of their human nature, God has given and continues to give each an opportunity to choose to be in union with Himself. The nature of the angel is such that once a decision is made, it cannot be changed; the nature of the human being is such that, because he is created with a less perfect nature, not ever knowing the full consequences of his decisions, he is given unlimited opportunities to return to a union with God after he has estranged himself from Him.
Though God the Father in His mercy has sent to earth His Son as our Redeemer, it nonetheless remains with each individual human being to make his/her own way back to a union with Him. As a continued expression of His mercy, it is God Himself Who must give help to each, first to be put onto the path of reconciliation, and secondly, to receive necessary graces to be reconciled over and over again as each estrangement takes place. This mercy expresses itself through Jesus' establishing the Sacraments of Baptism and Reconciliation. These are direct aids to the attaining of a union with God. The other Sacraments help to maintain oneself in that union.
In giving human beings further assistance, Jesus, as Redeemer, explains to us that it is not possible for anyone of us to be reconciled to one another. This makes the fact of reconciliation more difficult. It is one thing to be reconciled with God, but quite another to be reconciled with every human being. On the other hand, it becomes much easier once one is reconciled with God, for once this is accomplished, there are additional graces given by Him to become reconciled with everyone else. Nonetheless, to live in harmony with every single person requires continued prayer in order to be able to arrive at, and maintain a humble and forgiving heart.
In next week's installment, I will continue in this vein and delve deeper into the meaning of reconciliation and what it costs us in setting aside our pride and allowing God to work in us.
I ask of my little ones to joyfully gather at the foot of my Son's Holy Cross at every moment of their life. I desire my children to understand that this is possible when you faithfully come to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
By this union with my Son's Passion faith is deepened, abandonment and trust are enlarged and love is the flame of life which glows brightly in the darkness.
I solemnly tell you, my dear little ones, that you are my apostles of the end times. You do not understand my words because you allow human fear to grip you, causing your hearts to close to the grace of the Holy Spirit. This is the reason of my coming among you.
Yet I can not remain among you in this extraordinary way for much longer. Thus I implore all of my children to pray. I want each of you to become part of the faithful remnant and to help me ready the world for my Son's return in glory.
Behold, I come bearing the Light. Behold I come, the Bridge to span the darkness of your sin-filled world. Behold, the moment comes when all shall behold the light and many then shall fall on bended knee before their God.
I am the Mother of God, the Queen of Peace. I love you. Heed my words and embrace my Son's Sacred Heart, the very Furnace that shall cleanse the earth.
I love and bless you. Thank you for responding to my Call!
O! How grave are these times and still my children do not hear, do not listen. They are afraid, but not for their souls, but for their bodies. They are quick to cast aside God's signs while they eagerly, whole-heartedly embrace the evil one's traps.
But the moment is at hand when the Justice of God shall remove them from their wickedness. The glory of God shall be made known and the evil world will be made pure.
The history of mankind was written in the mind of God before time began at His Command. Man refuses to see the generosity of the Creator, and strives not for holiness but for the temporal things of the earth. The mosaic of God's plan for salvation now nears completion. The tapestry He has woven in which the very names of all His children are written is at its fulfillment. One by one His faithful children have given back to Him their hearts. These are the multi-colored roses of the design. There are many colors, but in God's eye each are beautiful, for their beauty comes from Him.
I, the Mother of God, say to my children: You must decide for God now! You can no longer remain children of the world. You are my little ones and I love you. Why do you deny my Divine Son who is Merciful Love? Why do you continue to look down when your eyes should be cast upward toward Eternal Light?
I solemnly tell you the light of your world shall be extinguished, for what it illuminates is but wickedness. Even in these last days, which now are counted in hours, you prefer your ease. You seek only bodily satisfaction. You have completely forgotten your souls. Therefore, I solemnly tell you that the natural disasters shall come. Like a fierce wind these disasters will strike at all the world, and particularly your godless country of which I am patroness. How my Immaculate Heart weeps tears of blood over the plight of my children. How my little ones continue to make me a Sorrowful Mother.
God has given you many signs, many graces. His warnings have been countless yet you stubbornly refuse to see and believe.
Will you not pray, seeking God's Holy Will? Will you not then convert your heart that through my Immaculate Intercession I might obtain for you the graces necessary for your eternal salvation?
Pray! for the moment of great punishment shall strike. Your world, as you know it, shall be drastically changed. The evil one roams freely and he captures many souls.
Heed my words and believe. Give God your 'yes' while there is time. If you refuse you shall not persevere and the darkness shall claim you. Lo, the seasons change, but my children do not. Pray! Pray! Pray!
I love and bless you. Thank you for responding to my Call!