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A spiritual response to doctor-prescribed death

Posted By July 26, 2012 | 12:45 pm | Lead Story #2
By William T. Clew Christ the King Parish will begin a novena Sept. 10 to pray for those who are seriously or terminally ill, according to Msgr. Thomas J. Sullivan, pastor and diocesan chancellor. It is also a spiritual response to the fact that Massachusetts voters are considering doctor-prescribed suicide on the Nov. 6 ballot, he said. The novena, both honoring and asking the intercession of St. Joseph, will be conducted on nine consecutive Monday evenings. Msgr. Sullivan said it will begin the tradition of an annual fall novena, to which all are invited. The novena will begin at 7:15 p.m. each Monday and conclude at about 8 p.m. Each evening will conclude with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. A short homily will also be given and novena prayers recited by all the people. There will be guest homilists, including Bishop McManus, Jesuit Father John Gavin, Allison Ledoux, Marc Tumenski and Jo Massarelli.

By William T. Clew

Christ the King Parish will begin a novena Sept. 10 to pray for those who are seriously or terminally ill, according to Msgr. Thomas J. Sullivan, pastor and diocesan chancellor. It is also a spiritual response to the fact that Massachusetts voters are considering doctor-prescribed suicide on the Nov. 6 ballot, he said.
The novena, both honoring and asking the intercession of St. Joseph, will be conducted on nine consecutive Monday evenings. Msgr. Sullivan said it will begin the tradition of an annual fall novena, to which all are invited. The novena will begin at 7:15 p.m. each Monday and conclude at about 8 p.m. Each evening will conclude with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.  A short homily will also be given and novena prayers recited by all the people.  There will be guest homilists, including Bishop McManus, Jesuit Father John Gavin, Allison Ledoux, Marc Tumenski and Jo Massarelli.
Catholics need to make a spiritual response to the prospect that voters may adopt doctor-prescribed suicide, Msgr. Sullivan said. A measure called the Death with Dignity Act will be on the Massachusetts ballot. If passed, the law would make it legal in Massachusetts to give adults diagnosed with six months or less to live the option to end their lives using a lethal dose of doctor-prescribed medication.
“Suicide is never a good choice, under any circumstances.  Death with dignity means acceptance of the fact that death is part of the fabric of life and the doorway to the new life we find in Christ,” Msgr. Sullivan said.
“The most exemplary way of caring for our dying loved ones should be through the loving care, prayer, hope and the proper pain management that we afford family members and friends,” he said.  “We should not be helping people to end their lives through suicide.
“Although we didn’t plan it this way, the novena will conclude the night before the national elections.  Many Massachusetts voters are still unaware of the fact that they will be voting on a state ballot initiative introducing doctor-prescribed suicide as the law in our state.  It is called ‘Death with Dignity’ and it is amazing how twisted our society has become that some can actually believe that suicide dignifies the human person or our human illnesses,” said Msgr.Sullivan said.  “This ballot initiative will have the force of law and must be taken seriously.”
“Many state legislators will attest that the subject is so controversial that they did not want to introduce the legislation through the normal process at the State House.  So, the the ballot initiative was the route taken. Millions of dollars from out-of-state funding sources have been pouring into Massachusetts because it is widely thought that if our state adopts the initiative many other states will follow suit,” he said.  “We have to make a stand here.”
The reason St. Joseph was chosen as the patron of the novena, Msgr. Sullivan said, is not only that he is universally loved throughout the Church as Jesus’ obedient foster father but that he is “the patron saint of a happy death.”
“Every year, by definition, thousands of people in our city and region find themselves seriously or terminally ill.  Thousands die.  While much care is provided for them, a great deal of it exemplary, we also need to pray for the dying.  Our new annual novena is a spiritual response to that need.  We need to learn how to pray for the dying while they are still with us, that they find acceptance and peace, and we need to learn to pray for the grace to accept the deaths of people we love,” said Msgr. Sullivan. “For each of us the deaths of loved ones can be a stumbling block to faith. Tradition and Church art observe, although not specified in the New Testament, that both Jesus and Our Lady were present at the death of St. Joseph,” occasioning the saint’s “happy death.”
“Whose spirits would not be lifted, even when dying, if they found themselves in the real presence of Jesus and Mary,” he asked.  “The record of St. Joseph in the New Testament comes to a close after the infancy narratives.  But St. Joseph’s happy death has long been observed.”