Life is celebrated annually by the
Catholic Church in Ireland, Scotland and
England and Wales. It is a day dedicated
to celebrating and upholding the dignity
of human life from conception to natural
death. This year’s Day for Life is
celebrated in Ireland on Sunday 4
October on the theme ‘Cherishing Life,
Day for Life 2015 pastoral message: ‘Cherishing Life, Accepting Death’
‘How great a lie … to make people think that lives affected by grave illness are not worth living!’ – Pope Francis
Kathleen, a much-loved grandmother, collapsed at home one Saturday morning and was rushed to hospital. Early signs pointed towards a stroke. The doctors talked about the next twenty-four hours being critical; it seemed like Kathleen might not even survive. The priest was called and Kathleen received the anointing of the sick. Doctors were talking about brain damage and whether interventions might be possible. Suddenly the family was faced with big questions. What would Kathleen have wanted and how could the Church help guide any decisions? How do we accept death when it comes and cherish life while we can?
There have been remarkable medical and technological advances so that the chronically ill can receive life-saving treatments. We can be truly thankful for such advances. And yet at some time or other we will all die. These same advances have led to more complex decision-making about appropriate treatment for those who are gravely ill.
At the end of life, there are two thoughts that can help guide us all.
The first is that we love life. Every person is loved by God and every life is a precious gift never to be destroyed or neglected. It is wrong to hasten or bring about death. God will call us in his own good time.
The second is that we accept death. This means there is no obligation to pursue medical treatment when it no longer serves its purpose – that is when treatment is having no effect or indeed harming the patient.
We need to prepare to face life-threatening crises. Ideally these difficult and important decisions need to be faced with others – our spouse, our siblings, our extended family members. The family, after all, should be the privileged place where mutual support and understanding occurs.
Sometimes difficult decisions need to be made and the views of family and experts should be taken into account. In such situations these two basic questions can guide our decisions:
is this decision loving life?
is this decision accepting the inevitability of death?
Depending on the situation we should seek ways to answer yes to both, as life itself is a gift from God, and death but the gateway to new life with him.
From the Irish Bishops
To make a donation to the upkeep the church building use the details below:
Account NO; 10701126
Bank: Bank of Ireland
Branch Address: James Street
On the Archive page you'll find the Ferns, Ryan, Murphy & Cloyne Reports, as well as some articles that have previously appeared on this page and Newsletter Archive.