Life is a journey; the choices you make now will determine your eternal destination.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Bishop Henry (Calgary, Ab.) on euthanasia and assisted suicide

This article was published in the Calgary Sun newspaper. It is written by  Bishop Fred Henry.

"Many do not understand the framework that the Alberta Catholic Bishops work from regarding sacraments and funerals associated with the issue of euthanasia and assisted suicide. There are three foundational pillars that ground our practice.

First of all, any action or omission which of itself or by intention causes or hastens death is a grave violation of the commandment: “You shall not kill.”

Secondly, we hold firmly that, while every person has a fundamental right to normal care and treatment, he or she has also the right to refuse procedures or treatments considered “extraordinary” or “disproportionate”; that is, overly burdensome, painful or of dubious effectiveness in restoring health. Likewise, the individual has the right to discontinue treatment under the same conditions.

Thirdly, for those in the final stages of a terminal illness, the church is a strong advocate for palliative care. We applaud the progress that has been made in the field of pain alleviation and management. While acknowledging the human and redemptive value of suffering, we also recognize our common human responsibility to bring relief to suffering whenever possible. Thus in palliative care it is always legitimate to administer medication in doses adequate to control the pain, even if it is foreseen that death will be hastened, so long as the intent is to alleviate the pain and not to hasten death.

Willem Joacbus Cardinal Eijk, Archbishop of Utrecht in the Netherlands, says based on their experience that when confronted with people who say they want euthanasia or assistance in suicide, “look behind the question."

The request to be euthanized or assisted in suicide do not necessarily or directly contain a wish to die or for the termination of life. The question being asked is, “How can I (continue to) live with dignity in this situation?”

Experience teaches that a request for the termination of life is often prompted by fear for unbearable pain and by an aversion to personal humiliation. The emphasis is usually on physical pain. Research shows that in only 10% of the cases is pain the only reason for a request for the termination of life. The primary problem is the preserving self-respect and human dignity. Put in general terms, the request for euthanasia or assisted suicide seems above all to be a request for help and relief. That is why it is very important to speak with the other person and discover with him the source of his request.

For the Alberta Bishops, true pastoral care implies that the pastor leads people entrusted to his care to the truth, ultimately found only in Jesus Christ, Who is “the way, the truth and life” (John 14,6).

For Catholics, in order to receive the sacraments, one must have the proper disposition. The deepest meaning of receiving sacraments is that man entrusts himself to God’s loving mercy. Consciously and freely choosing euthanasia or assisted suicide implies that one is not entrusting oneself to God’s mercy, but is rather controlling the conclusion of one’s own life. Such a position is incompatible with the surrender to God’s loving mercy and it denies, so to speak, the strength that is inherent in the sacraments. Through the sacraments one participates in the suffering, the death and the Resurrection of Jesus and in the unconditional “yes” He spoke to His Father.

From this perspective, it is impossible to comply with a request for the sacraments when someone has planned to end his life or to have it ended actively. Such a person does not have the proper disposition.

Euthanasia and physician assisted suicide are not a “solution” to suffering, but an elimination of the suffering human being. It is therefore the confirmation of despair, of the overwhelming feeling that all suffering can only end when the human person himself ceases to be. If the pastoral caregiver were to support the request for euthanasia, he would be capitulating to despair, which is contrary to the hope alive within him which he wants to proclaim. If the Church’s minister were to, out of a false of compassion, accede to such a request it would constitute an enormous situation of scandal and denial of the truth, “You shall not kill.”"

Friday, July 29, 2016

Have mercy upon the suffering souls

This Year of Mercy, we are called to perform spiritual and corporal works of mercy. One of the corporal works of mercy is "ransom the captive" or, in a more modern translation, free or visit the imprisoned. Now, for most of us, this is not possible as we don't have prisons handy to drop in and visit prisoners. However, there is one prison full of souls crying out for our mercy, and that is Purgatory.
Souls in Purgatory have no way of helping themselves; they must do their full sentence until they are cleansed of the temporal punishment of their sins. However, we can aid them by our prayers, penance and fasting; pleading with God for their timely release. One most effective help is to offer Masses frequently for the souls, and to offer up your Communion for them. When the priest raises the Chalice during the Mass, offer a precious drop of His Blood to fall on the souls in Purgatory, to wash them clean in the Blood of the Lamb.
This becomes also a spiritual work of mercy, as you are comforting the afflicted and a twofold corporal work of mercy as you care for their thirst for God by offering alms for their release.
Also note that the requiem prayer is indulgenced applicable only to the holy souls, so the more you pray it the more benefit there is for the souls; I like to pray it whenever I pass a roadside cross that marks where someone died, or when I pass a graveyard. It can also be prayed before and after meals and between decades of the rosary. So many opportunities to ransom the captive!

The requiem prayer:

Eternal rest, grant unto them, O Lord.
Let perpetual light shine upon them,
and may they rest in peace. Amen.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Sanctify the moment

When we read the stories about the lives of saints, we see that many of them suffered much, either physically or mentally. And as we consider our own lives, we can see that our suffering is nothing compared to theirs.
Does it seem to you that perhaps sainthood is only for those of heroic virtue?
We are all called to be saints, for a saint is nothing more than someone who dwells in heaven for eternity. Their greatness does merit them a higher place in heaven than perhaps we will merit.
So if God's plan for us doesn't include heroic suffering, how do we make sure we can make it to the highest heaven possible for us?
By sanctifying the moment, and doing all for the glory of God and the relief of souls suffering in Purgatory.
Every action you do can have value if you do it for God and not for your own glory.
Every indulgence you gain increases in merit if you offer it for the Holy Souls.
A simple little prayer you can say many times during the day, as you perform even menial tasks, or are doing something you enjoy, is: "For the love of Jesus and Mary and the relief of the suffering souls".
Don't like washing dishes? Offer it up with that little prayer.
Have to back down in an argument with your spouse? Offer it up.
Enjoying a relaxing vacation on the beach with your family? Offer it up.
Scored the winning goal or completed a physical task well? Offer it up.

So many little things we do in our daily lives that will increase our merit if only we offer them up for the greater glory of God.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Today's prayer

The closer we draw to Mary, the closer we are to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This little prayer is in my daily reflections from the book Day by Day for the Holy Souls in Purgatory (Susan Tassone).
"Eyes of Mary, turn toward me. Lips of Mary, pray for me. Heart of Mary, love Jesus for me."
 St. Therese Couderc

Never underestimate the love and obedience Jesus has for His Blessed Mother. Turn to her in prayer as a most sure way to touch the Heart of Jesus.

Thursday, June 2, 2016


We all have certain prayers that we say morning and night- even throughout the day.
I recently found this little prayer, which I love. Because of it's simplicity, it is quite profound.

God be in my head, and in my understanding.
God be in my eyes, and in my looking.
God be in my mouth and in my speaking.
God be in my heart and in my thinking.
God be at my end, and my departing.
                     Sarum Primer 1558

Thursday, April 28, 2016


This is not a post I want to write- but violence against Christianity has hit pretty close to home.
I live just across the border from Bonner's Ferry Idaho, and once in a while I go to Mass there at St. Ann's Catholic Church. The priest, Fr. Carlos, is from Columbia, a very nice man and well loved by his parish. Just before Easter, I attended Mass there and was shocked to hear that their church and several of the other churches in that small town had been vandalized. They beefed up their security with their alarm system and hoped that was the end of it.
Not so.
Last week, Fr. Carlos woke up to the sound of an explosion in the middle of the night- and his beloved church was on fire. The fire department responded quickly but were not able to save the church, although they saved the rectory right next to it. It was so damaged as to be structurally unsafe so they had to knock it down once the arson investigation was done. Yes, arson; there were 3 places that the fire was started. They collected evidence and have a person of interest arrested.

The bell tower next to the entrance to the church was scorched, but still stands.

The apple tree just feet away from the fire still has blossoms, heavy with smoke. Kudos to the fire department for doing a good job, even though the church couldn't be saved.
The local protestant churches have stepped up in solidarity and offered their churches for Fr. Carlos to have Mass.
As I stood there, all I could think of was to pray for the person who was so filled with darkness and hate that he vandalized those churches and destroyed this one. This person is perhaps mentally damaged- from who knows what- but we all know that Satan plays upon people's weaknesses. I pray that some good will come of this. It already has united the Christian community, and I'm sure justice will be done, and insurance will most likely help with the rebuilding of the church, but what of the person who did this? Will his soul be dark forever or will the prayers of this community help to bring some light- the light of Christ - to him? Will he be rebuilt into the light?

Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Friday reflection.


Of the obedience of one in lowly subjection after the example of Jesus Christ

“My Son, he who striveth to withdraw himself from obedience,

withdraweth himself also from grace, and he who seeketh private

advantages, loseth those which are common unto all. If a man

submit not freely and willingly to one set over him, it is a sign

that his flesh is not yet perfectly subject to himself, but

often resisteth and murmureth. Learn therefore quickly to submit

thyself to him who is over thee, if thou seekest to bring thine

own flesh into subjection. For the outward enemy is very quickly

overcome if the inner man have not been laid low. There is no

more grievous and deadly enemy to the soul than thou art to

thyself, if thou art not led by the Spirit. Thou must not

altogether conceive contempt for thyself, if thou wilt prevail

against flesh and blood. Because as yet thou inordinately lovest

thyself, therefore thou shrinkest from yielding thyself to the

will of others.

2. “But what great thing is it that thou, who art dust and

nothingness, yieldest thyself to man for God’s sake, when I, the

Almighty and the Most High, who created all things out of

nothing, subjected Myself to man for thy sake? I became the most

humble and despised of men, that by My humility thou mightest

overcome thy pride. Learn to obey, O dust! Learn to humble

thyself, O earth and clay, and to bow thyself beneath the feet of

all. Learn to crush thy passions, and to yield thyself in all


3. “Be zealous against thyself, nor suffer pride to live within

thee, but so show thyself subject and of no reputation, that all

may be able to walk over thee, and tread thee down as the clay in

the streets. What hast thou, O foolish man, of which to

complain? What, O vile sinner, canst thou answer those who

speak against thee, seeing thou hast so often offended God, and

many a time hast deserved hell? But Mine eye hath spared thee,

because thy soul was precious in My sight; that thou mightest

know My love, and mightest be thankful for My benefits; and that

thou mightest give thyself altogether to true subjection and

humility, and patiently bear the contempt which thou meritest.”

Saturday, March 12, 2016

The soul's journey

Another middle of the night inspiration came to me.

The journey of the soul: I saw the soul as a drop of water that falls from heaven onto a mountain top, where it becomes snow, pure and clean, then melts and becomes part of a stream that winds its way down the slopes, gathering dirt and debris, and makes its way to a river, slowed down and muddied; where the strong flow can rid some of the impurities of the muddy stream; which eventually winds its way to the ocean where it joins other drops of water and is eventually purified.
So our soul starts out pure, and becomes stained with original sin -  then as we grow and age, becomes darkened by the sins we choose. We make our way through life, still carrying within us that pure drop of water, the life giving soul, created by God; pure and perfect. As we grow in wisdom, we can change our lives to fit more beautifully to God's plan for us, if we but listen to His voice in our soul; as we reach our final destination, carrying with us the residue of our life; although we repent and make reparation we still carry some stain, which can be washed and purified in the great ocean of the Communion of Saints and the mercy of God.
This is the power of prayer and mercy- purification.Our prayers here can help the souls in Purgatory who can no longer work to their salvation but rely on the mercy of God and our prayers and penance and charity to help them rid their souls of the last vestiges of darkness caused by attachment to sin in their mortal life.  Once clean and pure they can then be reunited with their Creator, which it has been seeking all through it's journey through earthly life, just as the drop of water eventually joined all the other drops in the great ocean- an ocean of souls, praising and loving their Creator in Heaven.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

My journey, continued: Prayer and trust

A further point to my last post. 
 As I ponder my sins, and the sins of the world, I often am very troubled, especially with the persecution of Christians and the slaughter of innocents in the womb. We are at  a point in the history of the world beyond compare, where safety and a peaceful life are jeopardized at every turn.
I am reminded of the Hank Williams song, "When sleep won't come, the whole night through..." only when I "toss around and call my name" the Name I call upon is the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Last night, I had a breakthrough in trust.
Certain things were giving me great trouble of mind, and I finally just put it all in His Hands. I also included the Blessed Virgin, as I laid all my woes out and asked them for mercy upon this world.
This is my go to prayer for placing my trust in Jesus:

O Sacred Heart of Jesus,
I place my trust in Thee.
Whatever may befall me Lord,
Though dark the hour may be;
In all my woes, in all my joys,
Though naught but grief I see;
O Sacred Heart of Jesus,
I place my trust in Thee.
When those I love have passed away,
And I am sore distressed,
O Sacred Heart of Jesus,
I fly to Thee for rest.
In all my trials, great and small,
my confidence shall be unshaken as I cry,
Dear Lord, I place my trust in Thee.
This is my one sweet prayer, dear Lord,
My faith, my trust, my love;
But most of all in that last hour
When death points up above,
O sweet Saviour, may Thy face smile
On my soul all free;
Oh may I cry with rapturous love:
I've placed my trust in Thee.

I have said this prayer many times since I found it, and especially at night when I am troubled, and I finally am reaping the benefit of it- I have finally learned to trust, and then let it go.
I  know we are always told to trust in God, that we don't know His plans and that His ways are not our ways- but knowing that and implementing that trust have been a work in progress for me.
Like the woman in the Bible story whose prayers finally wore down the judge, God has finally worn down my resistance and I am finding the peace of actually trusting in Him.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Night revelations

I believe that during the night we are closest to God, especially when sleep won't come, or when we have dreams that trouble us and awaken us. I read somewhere that sleeping through for 8 hours is a fairly modern concept; that sleep used to be divided between the first and second sleep, (3-4 hours each) with a period of wakefulness in between. For years, my sleep has fallen into that pattern, and it's during that between time that I  have my closest conversations with God and my deepest examination of conscience. God grants us that time of no distractions for us to spend time with Him. So I believe.

Last night I was thinking about how in my youth I had grand passions and longings that I thought I couldn't live without. Now I look back and am thankful that those were unanswered prayers, for they would have led me away from my faith.However circuitous the route, I think I am firmly planted where God wants me on my earthly journey, and I can finally let go of those dreams and desires. For if they take me away from God, I want no part of them.

Friday, January 29, 2016


It's not good enough to just save your own soul, you must work to save others too.
That's what I believe, and it shapes my prayer life.
In this Jubilee Year of Mercy, one of the spiritual works of mercy is to pray for the living and the dead.
As an aside, here are the spiritual and corporal works of mercy:

The corporal works of mercy :
To feed the hungry;
To give drink to the thirsty;
To clothe the naked;
To harbour the harbourless;
To visit the sick;
To ransom the captive;
To bury the dead.

The spiritual works of mercy:
To instruct the ignorant;
To counsel the doubtful;
To admonish sinners;
To bear wrongs patiently;
To forgive offences willingly;
To comfort the afflicted;
To pray for the living and the dead.

Our parish priest is exhorting us to do works of mercy this year, over and above what we already do. Since I already pray for the living and the dead, every day, it's time to add more works. Several of these I already do as occasion arises; two I can improve upon are "To bear wrongs patiently" and "To forgive offences willingly".

The first 3 spiritual works of mercy require a tact and a fervor that I am not confidant in; however sometimes we have to push ourselves beyond our comfort zone for the sake of others. One of the ways to get involved with those 3 works is to use social media; to put our faith and our beliefs out there for the world to see; even at the risk of scorn and verbal and written attacks- for those are the souls who are in need of mercy. 

For the corporal works of mercy- we can support our local food banks even more that normal; we can give our excess clothing to charity; we can give money to support housing programs for the homeless or for shelters; and we can visit those in hospital or prison. We can give to those who beg on the streets- if you aren't comfortable giving money because it may be used for drugs or alcohol, you can keep a few restaurant or grocery store gift cards in your wallet to hand out.

If you are already poor, or not mobile, concentrate on the spiritual works of mercy. 
In doing more for souls you do more for your own soul. God will be merciful to the merciful.