The youngest moved into the dorm this week! The house is eerily quiet and food is staying in the refrigerator for an amazing amount of time!
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It is mental anguish, not physical suffering, that is the impetus for most patients requesting physician-assisted suicide. The legalization of assisted suicide suggests these fears are reasonable and hastening death is a viable solution. There is nothing compassionate about legalizing assisted suicide when it promotes such abject despair.
In every other instance, suicide is viewed as a tragedy. Those left behind often wonder what they could have done or said to prevent such an act of desperation. How could they have given the deceased hope and fostered a will to live? Why should it be any different for the infirm, the disabled, and the dying?
Instead of hastening their death we should be offering authentic compassion. The word “compassion” literally means to suffer with. We should be reassuring those who are tempted by assisted suicide that even though they are physically broken they have dignity and are cherished members of our human family.
As I reviewed his final round of packing I made sure he had a good supply of sacramentals. He received a small desk-top crucifix for graduation. He has at least one Rosary. I kept pressing holy cards on him. St. Michael, St. Monica, St. Augustine, St. Benedict. He had already packed his Bible.
He is very patient with me as I fret about his spiritual well-being. I really am not worried. He seems to be pretty grounded in his faith. I was also interested in his take on all the Catholic paraphernalia I was sending with him. He told me appreciated it but he would let his Catholicism publicly unfold gradually. He said, “If I wear my Faith too conspicuously I hear minds shut as I approach. It is better to let them discover my Catholicism after they know other things about me first.”
I do understand his point. I don’t expect him to make a shrine in his dorm room. If the holy cards occupy a place in his desk drawer, that’s okay too. I know he will see them occasionally and remember his mom and a whole bunch of saints are praying for him. I hope he will then remember to say a prayer too.This was written in the early years, as I was just starting to send children to college. Now my baby is starting his junior year in college. Would I do anything differently? Not really. So far, everyone is exiting college with a faith at least as strong if not stronger than when they entered. But my son was very wise when he said he would let his Catholicism unfold gradually. No need to hide it, but there is also no reason to wear it like a flashing neon sign. Catholicism should be something organic to who we are, not an awkward add-on.