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The Silent Killer: An Argument Against Euthanasia

In 09 Mary Summa, JD on 2012/09/13 at 9:11 AM

By Mary Summa, J.D.“He’s not responding. What do you want us to do with him? What are your plans?”The young woman had been sitting beside her father, holding his hand. The elderly man was a pillar of the community, a devoted husband, a loving father, a hero to those who knew him. She looked up to see the hospital social worker—file in hand—ready to write down her instructions. Her father had suffered a massive stroke five days before, which the doctors expected to kill him. By the grace of God, he had rallied.“We’re having a gastro feeding tube put in next week,” the daughter responded. The social worker looked at her as if she was a stupid child. “Oh, everyone likes to feed their family members, but it’s not so bad after a couple of days.”The daughter could not believe her ears! She looked the social worker straight in the eye. “We are feeding my father. We are not starving him to death.”The social worker snapped her file shut, turned and exited the room. She did not like what she heard. The daughter didn’t either.This true encounter illustrates the diminished value placed on human life in America today. Previously, our long-held belief that life is sacred had deemed all forms of intentional killing including abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, and suicide to be ethically wrong. Doctors’ and nurses’ commitment to this basic principle would have led them to do everything they could to keep this man alive. To have even suggested to a daughter that she consent to starving her father would have been unheard of, much less promoted.Now, in 2009, as this woman discovered, our nation’s rejection of God has real ramifications. Without God, man has no inalienable rights, including the right to live; only life with a utilitarian value deserves protection. Otherwise, extinguishing that life by starvation is morally acceptable.In order to understand how our nation has slid into this abyss and what we can do about it, one must understand what euthanasia is, where it came from and what is legally happening in North Carolina and elsewhere.

The word “euthanasia” derives from the Greek word for “easy death.”1 Euthanasia is defined as the “intentional killing by act or omission of a dependent human being for his or her alleged benefit.” There are two types of euthanasia. (1) Euthanasia by omission ends a patient’s life by withdrawing medicines or food and water necessary to sustain life. (2) Euthanasia by action is achieved by administering a treatment or lethal dose of medication to a patient who has requested to die. Either form of euthanasia can be voluntary where the patient consents to the euthanasia; non-voluntary where the patient did not make a request or give consent; or involuntary where the patient withheld consent.2

Origin and History of Euthanasia
Euthanasia dates back to Ancient Greece and Rome when doctors commonly administered poisons to hasten the death of patients.3 The growth of the Christian Church caused support for euthanasia to wane and Western governments, for the most part, condemned euthanasia until the 20th Century.4

While a few doctors and philosophers promoted euthanasia in the 18th and 19th Centuries, it failed to gain much support until the early 1930’s. Then, on October 16, 1931, C. Killick Millard, the Medical Officer of Health for the City of Leicester in Britain, reignited the debate by calling voluntary euthanasia “rational, courageous and often highly altruistic” and proposed a draft bill. Undaunted by his lack of success in Parliament, in 1935 Millard founded the Voluntary Euthanasia Legalization Society (VELS) to promote his cause.5 Some historians have suggested that the VELS, although framed as an organization promoting “voluntary” euthanasia, in fact, obscured the distinctions between voluntary and involuntary euthanasia and sympathized with Nazi euthanasia.6

For the next 40 years, the Euthanasia Movement continued to organize voluntary euthanasia societies around the world. In 1973, voluntary euthanasia societies formed in the Netherlands; in 1976 in Japan and Germany. That same year the first international conference of voluntary euthanasia associations was held in Tokyo.7

The U.S. Euthanasia Movement 
In the United States, just as in Europe, the voluntary Euthanasia Movement preceded judicial and legislative victories permitting euthanasia. In 1935, the same year Millard established the VELS in Britain, Reverend Charles Potter founded a lobbying group in the U.S. called the Euthanasia Society in America. The U.S. organization’s goals extended well beyond those of its British counterpart. Unlike the British organization, which fostered “voluntary” euthanasia, the Euthanasia Society in America aspired to legalize all euthanasia, voluntary and involuntary. In 1942, Foster Kennedy, M.D., a former president of the Society, while criticizing euthanasia laws that “ignore creatures who cannot speak,” offered a plan of involuntary euthanasia for defective children. Eight years later, in 1950, Reverend Potter publicly praised and supported the “mercy killing” of two cancer patients. The Society had moved very quickly from the position of supporting the killing of those who “want” to die to those who “should” ask to die.8

The philosophical table was set for judicial and legislative action to legalize the taking of human life, whether the patient expressed the desire to die or not.

Physician-Assisted Suicide
The Euthanasia Movement has had limited success in legalizing physician-assisted suicide, a type of voluntary, active euthanasia, which can be accomplished through direct consent from the patient or indirectly through a living will. Either through court action or legislative mandate, only three countries—Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg—have legalized physician-assisted suicide.9 Switzerland does not officially allow physician-assisted suicide, but the government will not prosecute physicians who engage in it.10 In Uruguay and Columbia, “mercy killings” are not prosecuted.11 Just this year in Britain, the Director of Prosecutions issued a similar directive to prosecutors to withhold prosecutions against individuals who assist in suicide.12

In the U.S., there have been many attempts but few successes to legalize physician-assisted suicide. The Ohio State Legislature made the first attempt in 1906. That bill failed 79-23.13 The International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide reports that between 1994 and 2009, 24 state legislatures entertained a total of 113 bills that would have legalized this type of active euthanasia. All attempts failed. Between 1991 and 2000, four states entertained ballot initiatives to legalize physician-assisted suicide. All failed. In 1997, Oregon legalized physician-assisted suicide, followed by Washington State in 2008, which legalized it by referendum.14 Currently, the Montana Supreme Court is considering the constitutionality of physician-assisted suicide.15

Euthanasia “by Omission”
While the Euthanasia Movement has made slow progress in courthouses and state legislatures with physician-assisted suicide, it has knocked the hinges off the backdoors of hospital rooms and nursing homes with euthanasia “by omission.” Judicial implementation of a legal fiction called “substituted judgment” and legislatures’ broadening of the definition of “medical treatment” has led to the passive euthanasia of countless individuals in this country and abroad, primarily through the withdrawal of food and water to living patients (i.e., silent euthanasia). Here’s how it happened:

As technological advances allowed the elderly to live longer, bio-ethicists began to question, “How much is too much?” In 1983, Daniel Callahan, a bio-ethicist and co-founder of the Hastings Center, wrote “On Feeding the Dying.” In that article he stated the widely held view that “…a denial of nutrition, may, in the long run, become the only effective way to make certain that a large number of biologically tenacious patients actually die…Given the increasingly large pool of superannuated, chronically ill, physically marginal elders, it could well become the non-treatment of choice.” He recognized, however, that society’s “deep-seated revulsion” to starving patients to death would prolong the journey toward legalization of the practice.16 While not totally convinced in 1983, Daniel Callahan 10 years later wholeheartedly endorsed the starvation of patients in a “vegetative” state.17 Most recently, he has joined the torch-bearers for rationed, government-run health care.18

While bio-ethicists deliberated the ethics of using advancing technology on the elderly, the Euthanasia Movement’s leaders saw an opportunity to advance the cause. In 1984, Helga Kuhse, a leader in the Euthanasia Movement and a philosophy professor at Australia’s Monash University, seized the opportunity. At an international conference, she informed the audience that by showing the public how painful death by dehydration and starvation really is, society would conclude that a lethal injection is “in the patient’s best interest.” In effect, coming in the backdoor will accomplish what the Euthanasia Movement was unable to accomplish through the front.19

Social and verbal re-engineering was needed to accomplish this long-term goal. First, euthanasia proponents needed to transform the simple procedure of inserting a feeding tube into a complicated “medical treatment” in order to disguise the desire to starve a patient.20

The often-cited story of Mary Hier illustrates how verbal re-engineering can affect the outcome. Mrs. Hier was a 92-year-old patient suffering from severe dementia, but not terminally ill. An abnormality in her esophagus required that she be tube-fed for many years. When her tube became dislodged, the court denied the petition of her guardian ad litem to reinsert it, citing the “relatively high risk” to the patient of performing this “major medical procedure.”21 On the same day the paper reported on the Hier case, it also reported on a 94-year-old woman who received the same procedure, now characterized as “minor surgery to correct a nutritional problem.” The woman was Rose Kennedy. Eventually, Mrs. Heir’s feeding tube was reinserted and she and Mrs. Kennedy lived for several more years.22

This dichotomy in the characterization of the same procedure begs the question, “Is it called a ‘medical procedure’ when the real intent is to starve the patient?” In truth, gastrostomy tubes (G-tubes) have been around for at least 100 years.23 In the early 1980s the technique was perfected so as to be performed in a 30 minute procedure.24

While the “food and hydration” debate has focused on “artificial” feeding through tubes, some courts and ethicists have argued that there is no distinction between food given “artificially” and that given by mouth. Both should be considered “medical treatment,” which can be withdrawn from a patient.25

Still others have argued that removing a ventilator is morally equivalent to removing artificial food and hydration. There is, however, a very clear distinction. Without a ventilator, the patient will die due to the underlying condition, which perpetrated the decision to ventilate the patient. Without food and hydration, the person will die of a new cause—deliberate starvation and dehydration—not the underlying condition, which prompted insertion of the feeding tube.26

Lastly, medical and law journals are filled with the burden/benefit argument—a low quality of life is considered in light of the “burden” to the hospital, the family and society. In this argument, the patient is not dying (or not dying fast enough), and it is deemed best to end the patient’s suffering. The response is philosophical—The sanctity of human life gives it intrinsic value. A person’s value and right to live should not be determined by his/her utilitarian value.

Judicial and Legislative Action
The Euthanasia Movement has won tremendous victories over the past 25 years. First, the case of Karen Ann Quinlan provided the foothold needed for the Euthanasia Movement in America by allowing parents to remove their daughter’s ventilator. In 1990, the Supreme Court declared in the Cruzan case that the “right to die” is protected under the Due Process Clause of the Constitution. While the court did not rule specifically on whether food and water could be treated as “treatment,” which could be withdrawn from the patient, nonetheless, that was the effect. The Cruzan family was allowed to kill their child by withdrawing her food and water.27

The Schiavo case ranks as the most public of all euthanasia cases. It highlighted for the world that food and hydration are no longer considered medical “care,” but are “medical treatment,” and can be withdrawn from any patient. Using a “legal fiction” of substituted judgment, the courts decided that Terri Schiavo would have wanted her feeding tube to be withdrawn.28 Terri died 13 days after her feeding tube was removed by court order.29 In effect, the courts ruled just as the Euthanasia Society of America wanted in 1950: What a patient wants has been supplanted with what a patient “should” want.30

Most courts and state legislatures have fallen into the arms of the Euthanasia Movement and now characterize artificial food and hydration as “medical treatment,” which can be withheld at the consent of the patient or another person acting on the patient’s behalf. Many states allow food and hydration to be withdrawn by legislative mandate or court action.

North Carolina succumbed to the Euthanasia Movement relatively early. In 1991, the North Carolina legislature authorized “Living Wills” and “Health Care Powers of Attorney.”31 In that statute, “Life-Prolonging Measures,” which can be withdrawn by a physician with consent of the patient or an agent of the patient, include “artificial nutrition and hydration.” So, in North Carolina, it is legal for a doctor to starve a patient to death as long as he receives some kind of consent from the patient or the patient’s designee.

Although many have supported voluntary euthanasia—euthanasia with the consent of the patient or the patient’s designee—others have argued that the distinction between voluntary and involuntary euthanasia is fleeting. That conclusion has proven prophetic.

Chris Docker, Director of the Scottish euthanasia group, Exit, wrote a paper in 1996 suggesting that when a patient is in a persistent vegetative state (PVS), the consent of the patient’s loved one should be replaced with “institutional guidelines developed by the professional associations.” These guidelines “could be developed for other conditions as well as PVS where the patient’s preference is no longer the most relevant factor.”32

Sadly, Mr. Docker did not have to wait long to see his theory put into action. In the fall of 2009, The Daily Telegraph (a London-based newspaper) reported several cases where hospitals euthanized or attempted to euthanize non-terminally ill patients under the British Palliative Care Program, the “Liverpool Care Pathway.”33

Shockingly, according to a recently released audit of the program, 28 percent of the families did not even know that their loved ones were put into the Liverpool Care Pathway.34

Conclusion
Natural rights, including the right to life, serve as the foundation of our democracy. Preserving these rights insures freedom. Destroying them guarantees tyranny.
“If we wish to be free,” Patrick Henry once said, “We must fight.”35 Turning our nation from a culture of death to a culture of life will not be easy. The Euthanasia Movement is a formidable foe, but for the sake of human freedom and dignity, we must be willing to fight the battle.

To begin this quest to regain our freedom, state legislatures should criminalize physician-assisted suicide. Despite legalization in only two states, many states, including North Carolina, remain silent on the issue, leaving the door wide open for physicians to engage in this ghastly act with impunity. Secondly, state laws should designate food and hydration, including “artificial” food and hydration, as “care” not “treatment” which can be withdrawn. We need to be a nation which honors the living, not one which abandons the dying.

No one should be put through the scene described at the outset of this article. I understand the pain. You see, I was the daughter and my father was the patient. My father regained his ability to speak, understand, eat and sit up on his own. He lived for three more months, giving my siblings and me, and, most importantly, our mother, the opportunity to take care of him the way he took care of us all our lives. In his dying hours, Dad held my hand, with extra squeezes in the same rhythm that he used when I was a little girl. He died in God’s time, not the hospital’s, in the wee hours of a warm summer morning while I, alone in his hospital room, held his hand reciting the 23rd Psalm.

Footnotes
1 Dowbiggin, Ian, “A Prey on the Normal People’: C. Killick Millard and the Euthanasia Movement in great Britain, 1930-55”, Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 36, No. 1. 59-85. 2001. Sage Journals Online. 8 Nov. 2009.

2 “Euthanasia Definitions”, Euthanasia.com. 4 Dec. 2009. <www.euthanasia.com/definitions.html>

3 Emanuel, Ezekiel J., “The History of Euthanasia Debates in the United States and Britain,” Annals of Internal Medicine, Vol 121 pp. 793-802 (1994) 793. 4 Nov. 2009. <http:annals.highwire.org/content/121/10/793.abstract>

4 Euthanasia’s resurgence in the 1800’s coincided with a philosophical shift in man’s view of the origin of law. From the 1200’s when Thomas Aquinas published Summa Theologica until the 1700’s, most political philosophers accepted the Thomastic theory that laws of a society should be based on natural law. Jeremy Bentham, an 18th Century British philosopher, challenged the philosophical cornerstone that God’s natural law could be discerned by reason and known to everyone. He argued that law based on natural law and the rights attached to that law were “nonsense on stilts.”4 Rather, Bentham argued, the morality of a law should reflect its overall benefit to society. Hence, human life has no value unless it provides an overall societal benefit. Viewed as a political radical, mainstream political scientists ignored Bentham’s theory.
Nonetheless, this theory did not die entirely. A follower of Bentham’s theory, John Stuart Mill, retooled the theory, and in 1861 published a thesis titled “Utilitarianism,” which rejected natural law. Mill’s position as a highly respected member of Parliament and political theorist gave utilitarianism credence it had previously not enjoyed.

In America, the Founding Fathers were very influenced by philosophers who argued in favor of natural law and natural rights. “We hold these truths to be self-evident,” Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence, “that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The Founding Fathers believed in natural law and believed the preservation of these rights were worth sacrificing everything, including their own lives.

5 C. Ann Potter, C. Ann. “Will the ‘Right to Die ‘ Become a License to Kill? The Growth of Euthanasia in America”, 19 Journal of Legislation 31, Notre Dame Law Review. 34. See also, Ezechiel Emanuel, 796.

6 Ian Dowbiggin, Ian. 59-85.

7 Docker, Chris. “A Short History of Important Events, Scottish Voluntary Euthanasia Society. 1995.

8 Potter, C. Ann. 34.

9 Baklinksi, Thaddeus. “Luxenbourg Legalizes Euthanasia.” LifeSiteNews.com. 18 March 2009.18 Nov. 2009. 4 Dec 2009. http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2009/mar/09031803.html

10 White, Hillary, “Switzerland Refuses to Alter Assisted Suicide to Nix Death Tourism.” LifeSiteNews.com. June 2, 2006,. 4 Dec 2009. http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2006/jun/06060210.html.

11 Aysegil Demirhan Erdemir, M.D ,”A Short History of Euthanasia Laws, and Their Place in Turkish Law”, Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 11 (2001), 47-49 rpt at < http://www.eubios.info/EJ112/EJ2F.htm&gt;

12 Gilbert, Kathleen, “Britain Won’t Prosecute Assisted Suicide: Chief Prosecutor,” LifeSiteNews.com. 21 Sept. 2009. 4 Dec. 2009. <http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2009/sep/09092109.html&gt;

13 Ezekiel, Emanuel. 796.

14 “Failed Attempts to Legalize Euthanasia/Assisted Suicide in the United States.” International Task Force.org. 4 Dec. 2009. http://www.internationaltaxkforce.org/usa.htm

15 “Montana’s Top Court to Hear Right-to-Die Argument,.” CNN.com/US. 1 Sept 2009. 4 Dec 2009. < http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/09/01/montana.right.to.die/index.html&gt;

16 Callahan, Daniel. “On Feeding the Dying,” Hastings Center Report, October 1983. 22.

17 Callahan, Daniel, et. al. “The Sanctity of Life Seduced: A symposium on Medical Ethics,” April 1994. 4 Dec. 2009. Reprinted at <http://www.firstthings.com/article/2009/001-the-sanctity-of-life-seduced-a-symposium-on-medical-ethics-8&gt;

18 Callahan, Daniel. “America’s Blind Spot: Health Care and the Common Good” Commonweal Magazine. Vol. CXXXVI, No. 17. 9 Oct 2009. 4 Dec 2009.
<http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/article.php3?id_article=2659&gt;

19 Marker, Rita L., Smith, Wesley J. “The Art of Verbal Engineering”, Dusquene Law Review. Vol. 35. No. 1. Fall 1996. 81-107. 4 Dec 2009. Reprinted at

20 Marker, Rita, Smith, Wesley. 96.

21 Marker, Rita, Smith, Wesley. 96.

22 See In re Hier, 18 Mass. App 200, 464 N.E. 2d 959 (1984).

23 Marker, Rita L., Smith, Wesley J. 97.

24 Minard, MD, Gaule, “The History of Surgically Placed Feeding Tubes”, “Nutrition in Clinical Practice”, Vol. 21. No. 6. 626-633 (2006). Sage Journals Online. 4 Dec 2009. Also see Marker, Rita L., Smith, Wesley J., fn 70.

25 See “Gastrostomy”, Surgeryencyclopedia.com. 6 Nov 2009. <http://ncp.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/21/6/626&gt;

26 Marker, Rita L., Smith, Wesley J.. 99. See fn 80.

27 Grimstad, Julie, “Providing Nutrition and Hydration to Patients,” Women for Faith and Family, September 2000. 4 Dec 2009.

28 Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Department of Health, 110 S. Ct. 2841 (1990).

29 Snead, Carter O., “The ‘Surprising’ Truth About Schiavo: A Defeat for the Cause of Autonomy.” Constitutional Commentary. Winter 2005. 1-18. 4 Dec 2009.

30 “Terri’s Story.” Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation. 4 Dec 2009. http://www.terrisfight.org/pages.php?page_id=3

31 Potter, C. Ann. 35.

32 Docker, Chris. “Limitations of the Best Interests and Substituted Judgment Standards: A Brief Argument to Suggest that the Law’s Current Mechanisms for Making Decisions About Incompetent Persons Are Inadequate.” Dying In Dignity Mensa Sig News Journal. Vol 3. Issue 1. 1-11. 1993. 23 Nov 2009. http://www.euthanasia.cc/bi.html

33 Blake, Heidi, “Fighting for a Peaceful, Pain-Free Death.” Daily Telegraph. 23 Nov 2009, 8 Dec 2009. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/6613732/Fighting-for-a-peaceful-pain-free-death.html;
Devlin, Katie. “Sentenced to Death on the NHS.” Daily Telegraph. 2 Sept 2009. 9 Dec 2009. < http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/6127514/Sentenced-to-death-on-the-NHS.html&gt;; Devlin, Kate. Irvine, Chris. “Daughter Claims Father Wrongly Placed on Controversial NHS End-of-Life Scheme.” Daily Telegraph. 8 Sept 2009. 9 Dec 2009. <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/6156076/Daughter-claims-father-wrongly-placed-on-controversial-NHS-end-of-life-scheme.html&gt;; See also Smith, Wesley. “Hazardous Pathway.” National Review Online. 20 Oct 2009. 9 Dec 2009. <http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=MzVjMTU3ZGE2MDVkM2ZjMTg1YTY3NDIwYjdmOWZmYTE=&w=MQ=&gt;

34 “National Care of Dying Audit—Hospitals, Round 2, Geriatric Report 2008/2009.” Marie Curie Palliative Care Institute Liverpool in collaboration with Clinical Standards Department of the Royal College of Physicians. 7.

35 Henry, Patrick. “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death.” 23 March 1775. 5 Dec 2009 <http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/patrick.asp&gt;


Mary Summa, J.D., is an attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina.


Copyright © 2010. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.

Re-printed with permission from the NORTH CAROLINA FAMILY COUNCIL MAGAZINE PUBLICATION.

Originally printed – “The Silent Killer:  An Argument Against Euthanasia.” Family NC, Winter 2010.

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“Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

In 07 Observations on 2016/08/26 at 12:00 AM

The one essential virtue God requires of us is FAITH.  Without it, nothing has any worth or gains any merit.  And, like Our Lord’s apostles, we must ask Him to increase our faith.  In our times, this is particularly important so that we do not live in fear.  This is because we are by nature cowardly and often quite weak and fearful.   It is only by faith that we can cope with the billowing  storm clouds of our times.

Our only fear should be that of being separate from God. If we compromise on any single truth of the Creed, it will follow that we will gradual compromise on others to the point that we will end up rejecting truth/faith for the value’s of this world’s so called culture.  There are many nowadays who do not want you to reject their false ideas, and it would be imprudent of you to remain silent  when doing so would cause confusion or even scandal.  Do not retreat to your own little world, but instead challenge your erroneous ideas with the truth to transform your milieu.  Our world is in great need of living examples of faith.

Stand up for your faith.  Be a living testimony to Christ despite the ridicule today’s world heaps on you.  Our Christianity obliges us to bear witness to the Truth regardless of the consequences.  We must be prudent and charitable but never cowardly or fearful in the defense of our beliefs.  Christ Himself will give us the courage to face our difficulties.   Throughout His life, Jesus was subjected to constant tauntings, criticism, and insults which He combated with the Truth.

A life of faith is a life of sacrifice meaning sacrificially rejecting whatever prevents us doing what we know is God’s will for us.  You will be faithful in important matters  of faith is you are faithful in protecting yourself from any occasion to compromise your belief, be it a movie, an event, a conversation. Do not be alarmed or discouraged by temptations.  Pray and flee, but if you must stay, stand your ground because by defending your belief, you can be an example that wins others to Christ.    Never follow the weak and blinking light of comfort and conformity which the world advocates; instead, be guided by the principles of Him who is the Light of the world.

If we meditate on the humanity of God Incarnate, we will be nourishing our souls to be faithful, loyal and unswerving in doing God’s will.  Like His Mother, we must keep our eyes on Jesus, trusting Him completely.  Our Lady’s whole existence had the solid foundation of faith in God.  Let us ask her to show us how to grow in faith daily.

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”

In 07 Observations on 2016/07/22 at 12:00 AM

Meekness is rooted in spiritual strength;  the meek are truly strong. Meekness protects from hostile attacks.  It passes over others’ impatience, irritation, irritability and even contempt, by either ignoring the attack or disarming the offender with a calm and serene smile.

Lack of meekness is born of pride and  expresses itself in outbursts, impatience and irritability, the net result of which is loss of serenity and peace of soul.  The meek person does not sulk but tells God about the problem or injury inflicted.

A woman bereft of meekness is critical, neglectful and forgetful of others because she in centered on herself.  To be meek, one must do battle with the natural tendency to have the last word, to be the center of attention, to think of oneself as essential, and above all to see others in negative ways.  A meek woman is not a show off.  She is not boastful, but she does acknowledge her natural talents as gifts of God.

The meek woman never refuses to speak to anyone.  She acknowledges that God places next to her people  in some need that she cannot ignore or just pass by. She opens herself to others with words of comfort; she uses her speech to console, teach, correct in a kind and generous manner. She is being Christlike when she act meekly in dealing well with others, particularly making those around her happy. She does this with kind words, gestures, support, and encouragement as well as readiness to forgive, to let thing of no consequence just slide off. Kind-heartedness and patience understanding conquer. When she act in a meek manner she recognizes that the neighbor Christ tells you to love is whomever happens to be near her or come into her life.

Meek women avoid like a plague: useless chatter, gossiping, irrelevant arguments, sarcasm and calumny.  They have their tongues under control and know when to be silent.  They show a willingness to bite their tongue when injured or insulted by not retaliating.  Thus, they accept the humiliations life brings and seek to use them to grow.   Instead they act kindly by showing understanding of the flaws and errors of others without correcting them.  

Friendly affability warms, dispels loneliness, warms hearts as does a friendly hello, giving a small complement or making a caring comment or inquiry.

The meek woman is careful not to answer back quickly or speak hurtful words.  Instead, she awaits the better time and gives way in matter of opinion.  She does not try to be right about everything and on the contrary, is sufficiently docile to accept advice.    A readiness and willingness to change her mind indicates she is aware that there are more than one solution to a problem.

To be meek means to have self-mastery, to be self possessed and hard to rattle.  The meek will inherit the earth because they are not slaves to impatience and bad temper.  Instead, they are serene in the possession of God with their souls in seeking Him in prayer.

Docility is essential for growth in meekness.   You cannot be docile/meek if you insist stubbornly on what you have already decided is right.  The meek woman recognizes that she is not her own best advisor, and takes advantage of the suggestions and advice given her by others whom God has placed in her path as aides.We need to have  a prudent distrust of our own judgment because our ego can derail us.  We must permit God to mould us through others and the circumstances of our lives.

We learn to be meek and humble of heart by meditating on the Passion of our Lord who suffered so many humiliations, and by considering His humility in the Holy Eucharist where He waits for us to visit Him and speak with him. Therefore, we can walk the way of meekness accepting humiliations, accepting our defects and struggling to overcome them.  Then, we will find in Him, who carries the greatest portion of our burdens, a yoke that is easy and a burden that is light.

“Serenity. Why lose your temper?”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2015/11/06 at 12:00 AM
Serenity. Why lose your temper if by doing so you offend God, annoy other people, upset yourself… and have to find it again in the end? (The Way, 8)

Say what you have just said, but in a different tone, without anger, and your argument will gain in strength and, above all, you won’t offend God. (The Way, 9)

Never correct anyone while you are still indignant about a fault committed. Wait until the next day, or even longer. And then, calmly, and with a purer intention, make your reprimand. You will gain more by one friendly word than by a three-hour quarrel. Control your temper. (The Way, 10)

As soon as you truly abandon yourself in the Lord, you will know how to be content with whatever happens. You will not lose your peace if your undertakings do not turn out the way you hoped, even if you have put everything into them, and used all the means necessary. For they will have turned out the way God wants them to. (Furrow, 860)

When the good of your neighbour is at stake you cannot remain silent. But speak in a kindly way, with due moderation and without losing your temper. (The Forge, 960)

“To pray is to talk with God. But about what?”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2015/09/18 at 12:00 AM
You write: ‘To pray is to talk with God. But about what?’ About what? About Him, about yourself: joys, sorrows, successes and failures, noble ambitions, daily worries, weaknesses! And acts of thanksgiving and petitions: and Love and reparation. In a word: to get to know him and to get to know yourself: ‘to get acquainted!’ (The Way, 91)

“A prayer to my living God.” If God is life for us, we should not be surprised to realize that our very existence as Christians must be interwoven with prayer. But don’t imagine that prayer is an action to be carried out and then forgotten. The just man “delights in the law of the Lord, and meditates on his law day and night.” “Through the night I meditate on you” and “my prayer comes to you like incense in the evening” [1]. Our whole day can be a time for prayer — from night to morning and from morning to night. In fact, as holy Scripture reminds us, even our sleep should be a prayer.

Our life of prayer should also be based on some moments that are dedicated exclusively to our conversation with God, moments of silent dialogue, before the tabernacle if possible, in order to thank our Lord for having waited for us — so often alone — for twenty centuries. This heart‑to‑heart dialogue with God is mental prayer, in which the whole soul takes part; intelligence, imagination, memory and will are all involved. It is a meditation that helps to give supernatural value to our poor human life, with all its normal, everyday occurrences.

Thanks to these moments of meditation and to our vocal prayer and aspirations, we will be able to turn our whole day into a continuous praise of God, in a natural way and without any outward display. Just as people in love are always thinking about each other, we will be aware of God’s presence. And all our actions, down to the most insignificant, will be filled with spiritual effectiveness.

This is why, as a Christian sets out on his way of uninterrupted dealing with our Lord, his interior life grows and becomes strong and secure. And he is led to engage in the demanding yet attractive struggle to fulfill completely the will of God. (Christ is passing by, 119)

[1] Cf Ps 140:2

Fr. Conrad L. Kimbrough – Part I Methodist

In 12 Converts on 2015/07/03 at 12:00 AM

I am Father Conrad  L Kimbrough, the L is for Lewis.  I was born in Salisbury, NC on May 10, 1927.  I am a Priest of the Holy Roman Church, to use the proper name of the Church.

I began life in a Methodist family and I remember attending Sunday school for the first time when I was about 3 years old.  I still remember the clothes I had on.  They would look terribly strange today, but they were black velvet trousers with a white shirt with a frilly front to it. I was educated in the faith of the Methodist Church.  I remember my mother, sitting by the fireplace in our living room reading to us from stories of the Bible;  a book that fascinated me from the very beginning.  I went to that same Methodist Church for a number of years.  I remember when I was in the early years of high school saying to some of the young people that we need a picture of our Lord in front of the Sunday school class with a table in front of it with two candles.  The answer from one person that heard me was: “You are a Catholic.”  I thought that was very strange.  Years later I went back to the Sunday school room and there was the table and there were the candles and there was a picture.  But not the one that I wanted back so many years ago.  The picture that turned up on the wall was that of the Blessed Mother, not of our Lord. And I was really kind of shocked by the whole idea.

When I was about eleven years old, I decided it was time I was baptized and the teacher came around one Sunday morning and asked if there was any body in the class room that had not been baptized and wanted to be baptized, and I raised my hand and said “I would like to baptized but, I think I should ask my mother first”.   The teacher said she did not think my mother would mind.  So I consented to baptism that morning. When I got home I informed everybody that I had been baptized. I remember quite frequently I would be told “meet with your parents after Sunday school class” because, we were going to see grandmother.  My response very quickly became, you can go without me or you can wait for me, but I am going to church.  No one could very well say that I could not go to church.  So my will prevailed.

Life went on like that for quite a while. I did not mind being a Methodist.  My hair used to rise on my arms when we sang the Gloria Patri, because I thought it was a Catholic sounding hymn. I remember another time when I was in high school, when I sent in fifty cents to get a prayer book, with all the Latin titles to the prayers: the Te Deum the Venite and all the other prayers  that were traditionally in the Roman liturgy.  I took that prayer book to school with me that afternoon as it came in the morning mail. During the afternoon I remember I was busy reading the prayer book, below the desk, so the teacher could not see.  As I got a little older, I became more and more interested in the Catholic Church.  I had a good friend who had a medal and I asked him how he won it.  He said he did not win it. It was a gift.  I could not understand that because medals were won for some achievement.  He also informed me that Jesus was all man and all God.  I had always maintained that Jesus was half man and half God, but he showed me where that was impossible. His family soon moved away, so I lost that contact with the Catholic Church.  I remember he took me to the celebration that took place after the building of the new Catholic Church, which was about three blocks from my house.  He showed me a cake that was being offered in a raffle for, ten cents per ticket and I could buy a chance on the cake.  I thought to myself,  “that’s a sin.” One should not be raffling and certainly not a church making money on the raffle, so I did not bid on the cake.  The church was beautiful.  I was taken inside and shown the new building.  I had walked past the church many times. I had seen old Father William out in front of it, but I would never pass by him. I would cross to the other side of the street rather than meet him. There was something frightening in a way about priests.

I remember that I was downtown with my mother and we saw two women dressed in long black dresses with white things around their faces, and I said to my mother “who are those women”.  And she said they were Sisters. I thought she must be wrong because one was very old and the other very young.  They couldn’t possibly be sisters.  But I never argued with my mother.  So, all these events (including a girl  carrying a palm branch home from church on Palm Sunday) I thought that made very good sense. After all, it was Palm Sunday.

All of these things contributed to my leanings toward  the Holy Roman Church.

I went away to a Methodist Junior College in Brevard, NC.  I took a religion course which was required. It was conducted by a Methodist minister. He began telling us this, that and other things that was not true.  He said that I got all my religion from Paradise Lost and not from the Holy Scriptures. This I could not accept. It kept on until I couldn’t be a member of the Methodist Church, any longer.  This is not my church, I thought.  One day I decided to go with a friend to the Episcopal Church.

It was a Thursday afternoon, I recollect.   There was nothing going on in the church; it was silent but from the time I walked in the door, I said to myself:  “This is where I belong”.  I went looking for the rector thinking the rectory was next door only to find it was some distance away. I walked to his house and rang the doorbell and said: “ I would like to belong to your church”. His response was: “That is a decision you will have to make for yourself”. I asked if there was something to read – some book – to find out about the Episcopal Church. He provided me a book. And I went on my way.  Eventually I was received into the Episcopal Church.  I was conditionally baptised and was confirmed on the following Sunday.  Those two events occurred on the first of April and the 8th of April, 1945.  Then I continued in the Episcopal Church thinking it was truly Catholic.  I was given a book on my Conformation Day and I began to study it thoroughly.   I began to pray the rosary. I remember trying to find a book with the Salve Regina, which was not in the book, I was using.  I remember I met a lady that knew it by heart, so I wrote it down when she recited it for me.  I started going to confession after several difficulties getting to a priest that would hear my confession.  But, it became a regular part of my spiritual life.  I also embraced other catholic customs which were mentioned in the little Episcopal book I had been given.

I went away to Berea College in Kentucky after I finished Brevard. There I would hitch hike to Mass on Sunday morning, which was strictly forbidden, but I felt like a martyr for the faith.  If I got a ride in time, I would go to the Episcopal church which was forty miles away in Lexington, If I did not get a ride that soon, then I would go to the Catholic Church which was only 12 miles away in Richmond, KY.  I became familiar with the Priest in Richmond.  I remember asking the Priest one time, if I could receive communion.   I was told I was in the right pew but the wrong church. I could not receive communion.  I could not go to confession there either. So I had to go to the Episcopal Church, for my confessions.

When I was about finished at Berea I wrote to one of the authorities in the Episcopal Church, (we did not have a Bishop,.our Bishop had retired) and asking permission to go to the seminary.  I already knew, on the advice of my parish priest, that I wanted to go to Nashotah House, which was quite Catholic.  The man I wrote to did not answer my letter.   I wrote again, and again I did not receive an answer.  Finally, I hitch hiked from Kentucky all the way back to North Carolina to see the man and he said:  “Oh, I sent you the answer to the letter, and it would be all right for you to go to Nashotah house, but I really never got the letters.  He finally filled out a form for me which I took myself and mailed to the proper authorities   I was permitted to go to Nashotah House,  but when I got a bishop, he was elected that fall.  I went to see him in Charlotte, NC. to make sure that I had his permission to attend seminary. He was not yet a bishop.   I suppose he was not in a ready position to turn me down.  When I went to see him I was early for the appointment and I was in the church  praying my rosary when in walked the bishop-elect.   He too was early;  I said to myself: “There go my chances of ever being ordained,  being caught praying a rosary.”  He, never mentioned it and life went on, and I entered the seminary.  The opening day at the seminary was the same day  he was made Bishop of Western N.C.   So I entered Nashotah House that fall, and I loved it from the start.  It was a beautiful place. We had beautiful liturgies.  The Dean of the seminary, though, did not quite totally share the Catholic view of everybody else. When I would go by the deanery I would say in a loud voice, “Personally, I love our Lady”, and the next day I would say: “Personally,  I love the Holy Father”.  And I was told I’d better shut up or I would be thrown out.  Finally, I was called into the Dean’s office, and he said: “I hope you are not just stopping off for a sandwich on your way to Rome.”  Well he was dead before I finally made the step. But at any rate, I finished seminary and was then ordained in N.C.  I went back to Wisconsin, to visit a friend of mine, one of my classmates.  And he said: “I want you meet our new bishop who was the Bishop Coajuter.  Who became the Bishop of the diocese eventually.  So I went to Stevens Point, Wisconsin to see my friend and he said we will have a cup of coffee with the Bishop and then we will be on our way.  While I was sitting there the Bishop said: “How would you like to be the Priest at Swamico?”   I told him I had not come looking for a job and he said I know, but I think you should go to Swamico.   He told me later that when he saw me coming up the walk he said: “That is the Priest that I want for Swamico, (which was a small fishing village on Green Bay)”.  My time there was rather idealic.  It was a beautiful parish, and I stayed there for a few years before I was sent to Rhinelander, Wisconsin,  where I served for four years.

Then, I was sent to Sherry where I was at a retreat house.  And then back to Rhinelander for four more years and then to Stevens Point where I served eight years.

And it was while I was there that the General Convention of the Episcopal Church met and voted for the ordination of women.  I was a delegate to that convention. And I remember how upset I was.  How I really wept about the idea of the Episcopal Church falling apart.  It had been very important to me.  I loved the Church of England .I had been to visit the shrine in Walsingham several times.  I had worshiped in Westminster Abbey and to see it all just falling away bothered me terribly.  I remember one day the bishop called me and said I would have to stop complaining about the condition of the Episcopal Church to others.  I said: “I will stop complaining, but in a few months you will have my resignation”.

One day I got a letter from him, saying I understand that you are interested in becoming a Roman Catholic.  I want you to come and talk with me about it.  The next day I wrote him a letter. I went to the Catholic bishop’s house in La Crosse, Wisconsin and was received into the Church and given conditional Confirmation.  And I went to stay with an Episcopal priest friend of mine.  Then I mailed the letter saying I had become a Roman Catholic.  A few days later I received a letter from the Bishop saying: “I see I am too late”.  I really was tired of discussing — There was nothing more to be discussed.

Continued

What’s In a Name? by Jack Reagan

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2015/03/20 at 12:00 AM

Did you know that the majority of those who live in the U.S. label themselves “Christian”?  That  is a great number of people by any standard; yet, by any Christian standard, the United States is a pagan country in practice, if nothing else.

Consider the following: more than fifty million babies have been killed because they were inconvenient for someone…….and the majority is silent.

We spend over 30 billion dollars a year on pets while countless humans lack the basics of food, shelter…… and the majority is silent.

Pornography is another billion dollar business in the U.S……. and the majority is silent.

The media of all types ridicules and distorts Christianity routinely while almost never doing the same to another religion…….and the majority is silent.

Television and movies depict sex and violence as not only acceptable, but, in some cases, as desirable…… and the majority is silent.

Health and fitness have become for many a quasi-religion, ignoring the fact that one’s  spiritual fitness, not physical fitness, determines one’s eternal destiny…….and the majority is silent.

In a nation that says it is overwhelmingly Christian, something is amiss beyond the obvious fact that too many “Christians” are participants in the above.

So, let’s look a little deeper into what research has discovered.

Most Americans say there is no absolute truth.  Most evangelical Christians do not believe in absolutes. (An absolute is a doctrinal or moral principle that is true for all people, everywhere, at all times. For example, the Ten Commandments and the existence of God.)

Most of those 18-25 do not believe in absolutes. The majority of evangelicals believe “that the Bible is the written word of God and is totally accurate in all that it teaches”. BUT, most of Americans say they believe this too which is about the same percentage that reject absolutes. (The Bible is full of absolutes.)

Most “fundamentalists” engage in non-marital sex; about the same rate for non-Christians. Half of the  Protestants and  Catholics are pro-abortion. Half of Evangelicals and Catholics believe in euthanasia. Half of freshman entering Christian colleges cannot explain or defend basic doctrines of the faith. Half of the youth who do attend church do not believe in absolutes.

It seems that the word “Christian” can mean many things to many people. One thing seems obvious which is that too many “Christians” are “cafeteria Christians” who pick and choose what doctrines and morals apply to them.  That is the result of rejecting absolutes.  If there are no absolutes, there can be no abiding truth that we cannot challenge without risk to our spiritual welfare.  We are left with human opinions instead of divine knowledge and revelation.  And the blind lead the blind.

We cannot even begin to change the situation until we recognize that the American Christian world is not in good shape. Then we have to determine how we came to reflect the reality above. There is no salvation in using that name “Christian” only in the name of Jesus.

Note: Poll statistics generalized because of constant fluctuation; sadly on the rising side.

Epiphany

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2015/01/09 at 12:00 AM

The Feast of the Epiphany calls forth many familiar Scriptural images: the searching Magi from the East upon their camels and dromedaries; the infant Jesus hidden still with Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem; the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh; and of course the brilliant star that made this unlikely gathering of Messiah and Magi possible.
At first glance our Gospel story today may sound like a rather odd but pleasant encounter in the early days of our Lord’s life on earth.
But in faith we know that this encounter between the Wise Men and Wisdom Itself was no chance encounter, nor was it an expedition of whim or a flight of fancy by the Magi.
This meeting that we celebrate with our liturgy today was part of the Father’s greater plan for the salvation of all mankind.
Two weeks ago today we celebrated the birth of our God in human form. For the past two weeks of this lovely Christmas Season we have continued celebrating the fact that the Word was made flesh and has dwelt among us.
During this Christmas Season we have meditated upon the Eternal Word of the Father, born in time, born of Mary ever-Virgin, as He remained hidden in Bethlehem.
But today the virgin-born Son of God is acknowledged by the whole world in the persons of the Magi. Today the mysterious presence of God-made-man, the Messiah, is hidden no longer but rather manifested to all humanity, Jew and Gentile alike.
In a sense, this manifestation of His divine kingship is the warning shot by our now-human Lord in His fight against satan and the demonic minions, the fight for the souls of all men.
Today the Lord says: “I have come to rescue fallen man from the clutches of evil, and I will not remain silent forever. For soon I will begin to extend my gentle kingship of love and truth and mercy upon all of mankind so that may see and know that there is indeed a light shining in the darkness, a light that the darkness cannot overcome.”
And like a venomous snake cornered, the evil one – in a rage that knows no bounds – seeks to destroy the Christ Child through the wicked Herod, a rage that ends the lives of so many young children whom we now call the Holy Innocents.
So you see, my dear brothers and sisters, today’s feast of the Epiphany really sets the stage for the larger battle that is yet to come. Today Jesus is revealed as God, a revelation that we see repeated in His baptism and at the wedding feast of Cana – two other mysteries often associated with Epiphany.
But once Jesus is revealed, we will see this most important battle really take shape as we enter into Lent. The evil one will try with all his might to destroy our Lord – from the moment he tempts Jesus in the desert until our Lord’s death on the cross.
While the readings of the early days of Holy Week seemingly paint the picture of evil gaining the upper hand, we know by faith that all that happens to our Lord in His passion and death are but necessary tactical moves toward the glorious victory of Easter.
Yet while our Lord is indeed victorious over sin and death in the glory of His resurrection, each of us must personally fight against evil. For while our original sin is forgiven, its effects linger within us still, leading us into personal sin.
As long as we live on this earth, we – like our Lord – must be willing to fight for the salvation of souls: our own and others as well. In other words, even though the battle has already been won, we must choose sides in this great cosmic battle between good and evil.
Sacramentally, we make this choice of sides at our baptism. Baptism enlists us, as it were, in the great army of the Church militant, and we make the promise to live for Christ – dying with Him the death of sin so that we might rise with Him in His resurrection.
Through the continued reception of the sacraments, we are strengthened for battle and our wounds are mended and healed. Through the sacraments, especially Holy Communion, we are also given a foretaste of the victory that shall be ours if we only but persevere to the end.
Alas, how many of us have abandoned our Lord’s army? How many of us have been seduced away from a true adherence to our Catholic faith by the mammon of this world?
Carried away by our lusts and passions, how many of us live habitually in a state of mortal sin – all the while pacifying ourselves with the bold-faced lie that we can disobey the Church’s serious moral teachings and still remain in God’s good graces?
My dear children, this must not be. This must not be the case for any of us. We must not let the evil one get the better of us, nor must we allow our loved ones to be poisoned by him and wrapped in his webs of sin and vice.
If we have been baptized, we have been marked for Christ! We belong to Him and His Kingdom – and He belongs to us! In His goodness, Jesus constantly gives Himself and His mercy and forgiveness to us through the sacraments.
We need only be humble enough to accept His grace that enables us to do His will, and strong enough to call upon His mercy whenever we fail. Moreover, we must be courageous enough to share the truth of our Catholic faith with others so they might be saved.
We must be courageous enough to gently correct those who have strayed from the narrow path that alone leads to Heaven.
Today’s feast reminds us of God’s goodness and His desire for all men to be saved. Like the magi of old, may we search Him out with diligence so that salvation may be ours.
Instead of a gift of gold, let us give to Him our undying love that pours itself out in a generous love for our neighbor. Instead of sweet-smelling frankincense, let us devote ourselves to our Lord in prayer.
And instead myrrh, which was used to anoint a body for burial, let us present to our Lord our sufferings endured out of love for Him and in union with Him.
May we be willing to fight the battle against personal sin and evil so that God may be glorified by our very lives.
May Jesus Christ be praised, now and forever. Amen.
9 January 2012
© Reverend Timothy Reid Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC You can go directly to his homilies: http://stanncharlotte.org/content/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&id=8&Itemid=61

Praying Litanies

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2014/12/12 at 12:00 AM

Within our beautiful Catholic tradition of prayer we have litanies dedicated both to the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph. A litany, as you most likely know, is a form of prayer that consists of a series of invocations and responses meant to implore God’s grace and mercy or to ask for the intercession of a particular saint.

While there are a handful of saints with their own litanies as well, the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary (sometimes called the Litany of Loreto) and the Litany of St. Joseph are well known by Catholics and are often used.

The fact that the Church encourages the usage of these two litanies tells us not only that we should turn to both Mary and Joseph in our times of need, but that they are very willing and capable intercessors as well. That makes perfect sense, does it not?
If our Lord is going to grant the petitions of any of the saints in Heaven, isn’t it fitting that He should answer the prayers and petitions of Mary and Joseph above all others?

Of course it is fitting! Indeed, it is right and just that our Lord should give particular deference to His Immaculate Mother and His earthly father – and not just because they are His parents, but because of their heroic holiness.

We have focused a great deal on our Blessed Lady this Advent, and rightly so, for by having carried our Savior in her womb, Mary embodies the spirit of hopeful expectation for the Lord that is proper to Advent.

In her faith-filled yes to the Archangel Gabriel at the Annunciation, and through her patience as the mystery of our Lord’s Incarnation unfolded within her and around her, Mary – more than anyone else – teaches us how to live Advent and prepare for our Lord’s coming.
As the Litany of Loreto tells us, Mary is both Mother Most Pure and Virgin Most Faithful.

But today, through our Gospel story, Holy Mother Church focuses our attention on goodSt. Joseph, the just one who served as our Lord’s father during His earthly life.

While we often refer to St. Joseph as the foster father of Jesus, in Hebrew society andculture, there was no real distinction between an adoptive father and a biological father.

In Joseph’s time if a child was accepted by a man and taken into his home to be caredfor, that child became the real child of that man. The man’s acceptance of the child was the determining factor.

Adopted sons gained not only a father, but also the father’s ancestry. This is animportant point, for St. Joseph was of the house of David.
Thus, as St. Joseph was His earthly father, we can refer to Jesus as the Son of David,fulfilling the messianic prophecy that a Messiah would be born of David’s line, a prophecy that St. Paul mentions in our second reading today.

We hear a little bit about the messianic prophesies of Isaiah in our first reading today.This story of King Ahaz took place about 700 years before the birth of Christ, and Christian tradition has always interpreted it as a prophecy about Jesus and Mary.

Certainly, it seems quite right that our Lord, who by His Incarnation comes to redeemall mankind from sin, should be born of a sinless woman of virginal integrity.

But our Gospel story makes it clear that Mary could not carry out the task of bringing the Messiah into the world all on her own. She needed a husband, but not to conceive the child. Rather, she needed a husband to protect and guide her and her child.

Considering the circumstances surrounding our Lord’s conception, our Lady needed a husband who was a man of faith, a man of justice, a man who would be wholly obedient to the will of God. And so in his Litany, we pray to Joseph Most Just, Joseph Most Faithful, and Joseph Most Obedient.
Moreover, in his own holiness, St. Joseph recognized the holiness of the Blessed Virgin Mary, even though she was pregnant by means of someone other than himself. We can see St. Joseph’s holiness shine through the way he decided to deal with Mary.

St. Joseph decided to divorce our Lady, not out of anger, but simply because he was faced with an unexplainable situation. No doubt divorcing her seemed only logical to him. So he proceeded to do so, but in a charitable way that would not bring her shame.

Keep in mind that our Lady made no explanation for herself. In her humility and faithfulness, our Lady remained silent and did not defend her honor – even to St. Joseph. Mary simply surrendered herself to God’s providential care.

Because our Lord knew that Mary would act in this very virtuous way, He gave Mary to St. Joseph’s care – who was the man in all of history that our Lord trusted above all else – the man our Lord knew would do right by her and by His Son.

So what we see in our Gospel story today is the beauty of virtue, the beauty of true holiness being lived out in perfect accordance with God’s will – even through the terrible trial of emotions that both Joseph and Mary must have suffered in this situation.

And that’s precisely the point! Our Gospel story today shows us that in seeking God’s will and acting with virtue, our Lord rewards us with understanding and peace, just as he rewarded St. Joseph with these things in his dream, even though he must have had to suffer first.

Trials of faith are the ways our Lord tests us to see just how much we love Him. It’s the way that He strengthens us to be more like His Son.
Ultimately our Gospel story shows us that Christ is worth waiting for!

For the past three weeks, we have been preparing ourselves for Christ’s coming(hopefully) by our prayer, our fasting, and our penances. We’ve invited a little extra suffering and discomfort into our lives as a means of preparing for the Gift to come.

Very soon, my brothers and sisters, our Lord will come to us once again at Christmas.He will come as He always does with His mighty gift of salvation, with a peace that surpass all understanding, and with a love that surpasses all knowledge.

If we have placed all of our hopes in Him this Advent Season, then we will be filled withjoy at His coming, regardless of what may or may not be under our Christmas trees.

Following the example of Blessed Mary, Ever Virgin, the Mother of our Savior and yet the Virgin Most Powerful, as well as that of St. Joseph, the Spouse of the Mother of Godand the Diligent Protector of Christ, may we learn to be steadfast in our faith and hope in the Lord so that we may know His love for all eternity.
21 December 2013

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio.
To enable the audio, lease go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

Link to Homilies:
http://stanncharlotte.org/content/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&id=8&Itemid=61

St. John Mary Vianney

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2014/08/08 at 12:00 AM

 

Above the north confessional of our church is a statue of St. John Mary Vianney, one of history’s greatest confessors and the patron of parish priests.
Just outside of the village of Ars in southeastern France where he served is another statue of St. John, one that depicts a special meeting between him and a shepherd boy.
The young St. John was traveling by foot to Ars when he stopped to ask the young shepherd boy for directions. His words to the boy are memorialized on the statue: “You have shown me the way to Ars. I will show you the way to heaven.”
And perhaps more than any other parish priest in history, St. John Vianney did exactly that: he showed his people the way to Heaven, in particular through the use of the sacraments. For each of the sacraments is, in its own way, a promise of Heaven!
This is because each of the 7 sacraments of the Church is a means that our dear Lord uses to confer upon us the grace that saves us.
With this in mind, as Catholics the hope of Heaven must always be before us. Indeed, as Catholics we know that there’s no point to living this earthly life if we don’t go to Heaven at the end of it.
While all of the sacraments help us to get to Heaven, the Eucharist is particularly helpful because of the frequency with which we can receive it. As I mentioned last Sunday, the Eucharist is itself a foretaste of Heaven.
Once again this week we hear from the Bread of Life Discourse of John, chapter 6. Today Jesus tells His followers that His flesh is bread for the life of the world, and that whoever eats this bread will live forever.
Last Sunday I spoke about how our Lady helps us to receive Holy Communion worthily and with perfect integrity. As the Mother of our Lord, and therefore the Mother of the Eucharist, Mary desires all of her children to glean the great spiritual benefits contained within Holy Communion.
But the spiritual benefits of Holy Communion: union with Christ, forgiveness of sins, greater love for our Lord and one another, and personal sanctification are only available to us if we receive Holy Communion in a state of grace.
It’s also important for us to realize that if we receive Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin, not only are these spiritual benefits that help prepare us for Heaven not given to us, but we bring even greater damnation upon our souls!
Before receiving Holy Communion at Mass, priests are required to say prayers of private preparation, one of which underscores this possibility of redemption or damnation being brought upon a soul in the reception of the Eucharist.
The prayer is this: “May the receiving of your Body and Blood, Lord Jesus Christ, not bring me to judgment and condemnation, but through your loving mercy be for me protection in mind and body and a healing remedy.”
This prayer reminds us that we must be most vigilant in receiving our Lord’s body and blood in Holy Communion. Receiving Communion is an action that must never be undertaken lightly or without sufficient recollection about the state of our soul.
Quite simply, if we fear we might have some grave sin upon our soul that we’ve never confessed, we shouldn’t receive Holy Communion until we’ve gone to confession first.
But we must also consider our relationship with the Church before receiving Holy Communion, because the Eucharist is the sign of our unity with the Church.
Thus, if we do not believe that the Eucharist is truly the Body and Blood of Jesus, or if we disagree with a dogmatic teaching of the Church, we should not receive Holy Communion because we are not in communion with the Church.
Yet, while the desire for human respect can make it difficult to refrain from Holy Communion when we know we should, we should always remember that not coming forward for Communion when we are not properly prepared for it is an act of integrity!
Honestly, my brothers and sisters, although it is tempting to do so, we should never fear being judged by our fellow man if we do not go to the Communion rail.
We should fear only the judgment of God! Few things will draw down the Lord’s ire upon us at Judgment Day like unworthily receiving Holy Communion.
Moreover, we shouldn’t despair if we find that we are not properly prepared for Holy Communion. Instead, we should simply turn to our Lady.
As I mentioned last Sunday, if we struggle with our belief in the Eucharist, Mary strengthens our faith. If we have difficulty with a teaching of the Church, she enlightens our minds to the Truth. If we find ourselves falling habitually into mortal sin, she removes our despair and strengthens us in our battle against temptation.
If we entrust ourselves completely to our Lady, with whatever problems we may have, Mary works to resolve them. Like a good mother, Mary is always working to help us receive her Son worthily and with perfect integrity.
And when we do, when we receive Holy Communion in a state of grace (even if we have venial sins on our soul), and if we receive in a recollected and reverent manner, we are made a little more like Christ and made a little more ready for Heaven!
Grace floods our souls when we receive our Lord worthily, with contrition for our sins and a desire to be completely united with Him and His Church, and we taste a bit of Heaven. Indeed, we are led closer to Heaven!
Our first reading today speaks of Elijah’s 40-day journey to Mt. Horeb, which is symbolic of Heaven. He undertakes this journey strengthened by bread given to him by God. Obviously, this story is a foreshadowing of the Eucharist.
Indeed, while we all need physical sustenance to help us maintain strength when we travel, the sustenance that we need for the journey to Heaven is found in the Eucharist.
Viaticum is the term used for Holy Communion when it is administered at the very end of a person’s life as part of the Last Rites. The word means: “provisions for a journey.”
So in our Catholic tradition we see the Eucharist as food for the passage through death to eternal life, signifying that the Christian follows Christ to eternal glory to partake of the heavenly banquet.
When a priest administers viaticum to the dying, after he says: “the Body of Christ,” he immediately adds: “May the Lord Jesus Christ protect you and lead you to eternal life.”
For this is the power of the Eucharist: it has the power to get us to Heaven – but only if we receive it worthily. So brothers and sisters, as your pastor I ask that you please examine yourself well and only receive Holy Communion if you’re properly disposed, so that the benefits of the sacrament might be yours.
Every day as I distribute Holy Communion at this altar rail, I pray for the salvation of each of you. When I come to you with the Eucharist, I say a silent prayer to our Lord that you and every member of this parish be saved on the Last Day.
Through the intercession of the Mary, Mother of God and Mother of the Eucharist, may this prayer be answered for all of us. May Mary show us all the way to Heaven.
12 August 2012

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

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