The Valley Catholic February 6, 2018 - Page 8

8 February 6, 2018 | The Valley Catholic COMMUNITY Living Well, Dying Well By Father Gerald D. Coleman, P.S.S. Adjunct professor, Graduate Department of Pastoral Ministries, Santa Clara University Contentious viewpoints become quite vociferous when a person’s “living well” amounts to living poorly due to illness and intractable pain, usually accompa- nied by emotional, physical, and spiritual loss. The question morphs into, “What can I do to die well?” I will explore this question and the Catholic tradition on care at the end of life at my talk “Living Well, Leaving Well” on February 22, 9:30 am, at Saint Lucy Parish in Campbell. All are welcome. In Spy of the First Person (2017), Pulitzer Prize win- ning writer Sam Shepard presents a striking portrait of a man undergoing medical tests and treatments for a condition that is rendering him more and more dependent on those caring for him. The man “knows something is wrong” as he sits in a rocking chair in a screened porch and “just rocks all day mumbling to himself.” The “more helpless he becomes, the more remote he becomes.” Another disturbing narrative is recorded in “The Last Days of Jil Finnegan” (www.mercurynews. com/2017/10/01/right-to-die-in-california-the-last- days-of-jil-finnegan), a 55-year-old Oakland resident who decided to take advantage of California’s “End More than 100 guests attended Father Coleman’s Living Well, Leaving Well presentation in 2017. of Life Option.” She suffered from incessant pain from cancerous tumors that lodged against her vocal cords and spread to her neck, back, and stomach. The methadone and oxycodone she took three times a day were only sending her into a stupor, forcing her to sleep most of the time. She always wanted to be in control and decided that she would die on the 14th anniver- sary of her marriage to Goeff. Her Stanford oncologist prescribed the lethal drug. A dozen invited friends came to say goodbye on her death-day. One acknowledged that cancer had ravaged Jil and God did not want her to suffer. Another felt that being present at her self-induced death was “almost like an execution.” Her manner of death greatly impacted her brother Tim who was suffering from terminal lung cancer. Would he follow the same path? These vignettes describe how many people are liv- ing and dying in America. In his new book On Hope (2017), Pope Francis writes, “In these times that appear dark, in which we sometimes feel disoriented by the evil and violence that surround us, by the distress of so many of our brothers and sisters, we need hope.” The Catholic moral tradition proclaims this hope by insisting that all human life is sacred, and the dignity of every person is the foundation of a moral vision of society. We have a strong responsibility to walk with all persons on their journey of life, dying, and death. Our moral tradition has at its disposal numerous tools to help people in life’s voyage, for example, proper care, and reasonable treatment that is not or does not become burdensome. The Church supports the proper use of pain medications, e.g., morphine, and presents balanced views on its use. This tradition offers great assistance to people when medical treatments become non-beneficial and the time has arrived when it is per- missible to allow oneself to die and enter eternal life. Living well and dying well are spectrums in the passages of life. Understanding and assessing them accurately enforces that both living and dying well is a goal worth the effort. To explore this topic further, join me Febru- ary 22 at 9:30 a.m., at Saint Lucy Parish in Camp- bell. RSVP at (408) 325-5288. Learn more at www.CatholicCharitiesSCC.org/Decisions. Readings at Mass Offer God’s ‘Real-Time’ Help, Pope Says VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Listening to the Scripture readings at Mass is hear- ing God speak directly to his people, offering spiritual sustenance and needed guidance for life’s difficult journey, Pope Francis said. For that reason, the prescribed texts should never be skipped or substituted during the Mass, lectors should read clearly and people should always listen with an open heart so that the words may eventually bear fruit in good deeds, the pope said at his weekly general audience January 31. Continuing his series of audience talks on the Mass, Pope Francis spoke about the Liturgy of the Word and the importance of listening to the Bible read- ings at Mass. “In the Liturgy of the Word, in fact, the pages of the Bible stop being some- thing written and become the living word, delivered by God himself,” the pope said. As the readings are proclaimed, peo- ple in the pews should be silent and re- ceptive, opening their hearts and minds to what is being said, not looking around or making small talk and criticizing what other people are wearing, he said. “We have to listen, open our hearts, because it is God himself who is speak- ing to us. So don’t think about other things or talk about something else. Understood?” he asked the thousands of people gathered in Saint Peter’s Square. Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County invites you to a special presentation: LIVING WELL, LEAVING WELL Fr. Gerald Coleman, P.S.S. Learn the specifics of the Catholic tradition on care at the end of life. Families, longevity and taxes are changing. How will these changes impact you and your family? A panel of professionals will answer your quesions about planning for today’s families. Thursday, February 22, 2018 9:30 – 11:15 a.m. Presentation • 11:30 – 12:30 p.m. Discussion St. Lucy Parish, Campbell Call: Alison Poetsch 408-325-5288 or Visit: www.CatholicCharitiesSCC.org/Decisions