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However did we reach this point in Canada where the Supreme Court would legalize assisted suicide with the overwhelming support of the people? The answer is not easy to discern, but it behooves us to try. By discovering how we got lost, we may begin to find a way home. The most obvious causes of our plight are the idolatry of individual freedom in isolation from the common good and the erosion of respect for human life. That the individual ought to control his or her life is now an axiom of Canadian society. That belief is ideological, but it is an ideology rooted in the prosperity the Western world has enjoyed for several decades.
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For Albertans, the huge drop in oil prices is having major repercussions. The provincial government says it faces a $7-billion annual deficit unless it cuts spending, and job layoffs are beginning to affect many people both inside and outside of the petroleum industry. The lower pump price of gasoline hardly begins to compensate for the negative effects of the collapse in prices. Yet, too often the falling prices have been seen solely in terms of market economics. For some strange reason, too much oil is being produced globally and that is driving the per-barrel price downward.
The Church could use many more theologically educated laypeople. Say that in the wrong company, and you may draw resistance. Faith is more about the heart than the head, some will respond. What good is all that knowledge if you cannot communicate it to the average person, others will ask. Learning theology can cause you to lose your faith, still others will say. Such objections, even the last one, are true. Still, it is odd to hear faithful Catholics fret about others dedicating themselves to deepening their understanding of the Bible and the tradition of the Church.
Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world, with oppression against them - I mean us - reported in 110 countries. That slip I made reflects the myopia we Christians in safe countries like Canada have about the immense suffering endured by fellow followers of Jesus Christ around the world. We are, for the most part, rightly concerned about Muslims, who are the principal victims of jihadists, but seem unable to focus on the tragedies in our own family.
A good part of our lives is taken up with daydreams, though few of us admit that, and even fewer of us would own up to the contents of those fantasies. We're ashamed to admit how much we escape into fantasy, and we're even more ashamed to reveal the content of those fantasies. But whether we admit it or not, we're all pathological daydreamers; except this isn't necessarily a pathology. Our hearts and minds, chronically frustrated by the limits of our lives, naturally seek solace in daydreaming. It's an almost irresistible temptation.
People are cheering, people are crying. But for too many, the realization of what has just happened has not sunk in yet. The Supreme Court just said sure, it's OK for someone to be put to death by a physician. The nicey nice name for it is physician-assisted suicide. Yes, I have listened to emotion-filled voices of relatives tell of watching relatives and/or friends die lingering, painful deaths.
On Feb. 6, in a unanimous ruling, Canada's Supreme Court struck down the law on assisted suicide. It was a terrible decision that will irrevocably change the character of Canadian society for the worse. It will place the lives of vulnerable people across the land in great danger. It was not a victory for liberty. It was a victory for licence and abuse of human freedom. The Supreme Court said the section of the Criminal Code prohibiting assisted suicide was in conflict with section seven of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
We knew it could happen. Still it was a shock to hear that the Supreme Court of Canada had struck down the law banning doctor-assisted suicide. Our society has been slowly excising God and morality from so many aspects of our public life that we knew it was only a matter of time before we replaced the will of God with the will of humans in regard to when life should end. We are the frog in the pot of water that is slowly being heated to a boil. When the law prohibiting abortion was originally struck down, we waited to see what laws the government would pass to regulate the practice. We are still waiting.
My basement is ripped apart right now, stripped bare to concrete and studs. The catalyst was a flood just before Christmas that required the panelling and carpet to be ripped out. In the process, two significant fire hazards were discovered, one in some faulty wiring and another associated with the clothes dryer. Each had the potential to literally bring our house down. Neither was likely to have been discovered if not for the renovations we are now doing.
It's easy to get to a point where we start to hear without hearing. How many times do we hear or recite the Our Father or the Hail Mary without paying attention to the fact that we're uttering meaningful words and not just a series of familiar, vaguely pleasant syllables? Perhaps the Ten Commandments, which we hear recited in today's First Reading, also falls into this category; how often do we stop and really read and reflect on those oft-heard ordinances when we see them hanging on a wall (usually on a poster in the shape of two tablets)? If we do ever stop and think about them, what is our reaction?
A Catholic friend of mine recently asked me why a priest at his parish would announce a message such as the following: "Today's Mass is being offered for the intention of Mrs. So-and-So, as requested by her family." My friend was perplexed because a Sunday Mass is a collective liturgical worship by and for everyone attending. It should not be celebrated just for the intention of a particular person. Isn't the Mass a memorial of the death of Christ that brings grace to all, in fact to the whole world?
Each year as we enter the first week of Lent, we naturally tend to think of fasting. Often we may think of things to give up and abstain from. Candies and deserts may be chosen. For adults, maybe it is alcohol or smoking. It is almost as if we can get a second chance to work at the New Year's resolutions we failed at a month earlier. Significantly, the Scripture passages for the first days of Lent each year speak of fasting. However, what is meant by fasting is different from simply giving up certain treats and pleasures for 40 days.