Summary of today’s show: In anticipation of Cardinal Seán O’Malley’s live town hall meeting on physician-assisted suicide later in the evening, Scot Landry and Fr. Matt Williams took a look back at this past weekend’s Red Mass with the Catholic Lawyers Guild of Boston and the homily from Cardinal Seán in which he addressed the same topic, using examples from the Good Samaritan to Mother Teresa to proclaim that true compassion does not assist suicide but provides loving care and personal dignity to the dying.
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Today’s host(s): Scot Landry and Fr. Matt Williams
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Today’s topics: Cardinal Seán addresses physician-assisted suicide at the Red Mass
1st segment: Scot Landry welcomed everyone to the show and said tonight on CatholicTV and WQOM will be the live town hall forum with Cardinal Seán, Janet BEnestad, Fr. Tad PAcholczyk, Dr. John Howland and Mary Ann . Scot asked Fr. Matt Williams about a birthday trip he took with his father to the Shrine of the North American Martyrs in Auriesville, New York. He said it was a wonderful, beautiful, peaceful shrine and place of pilgrimage. Scot said the martyrs at this particular location were three Jesuits, a priest, a brother, and a layman, martyred by native Americans: St. Isaac Jogues, St. Rene Goupil, and St. Jean de Lalande. St. Rene died on September 29, 1642, and Fr. Matt was there on the anniversary of that date.
Scot said today’s show will be a look at Cardinal Seán’s homily from the Red Mass, the Mass at Holy Cross Cathedral with members of the Catholic Lawyers Guild of Boston last month.
2nd segment: Scot asked Rick to play the audio of Cardinal Seán’s homily from the Red Mass. Scot said he began by saying the sovereignty of God comes before sovereignty of the state; that our rights come from God, not from the state. The lawyers’ vocation is not just a job, but a calling to work for justice. He said our society values feeling over truth. Also he quotes de Tocqueville who said that individualism unrestrained would destroy our country. Laws are lifegiving and the laws of God give us eternal life.
Cardinal Seán shared told a story about a pilot in World War II shot down over Germany who saw the face of love on those who found him and took him in and who would have seen him as an enemy.
Fr. Matt said these lawyers the cardinal was addressing had the role—like all laity—to make holy the secular. They are called to a leaven of goodness, for the upbuilding of the kingdom of God. It should make every person ponder the meaning of our work and how that work is contributing to the building of the kingdom. Scot said sanctifying the world doesn’t mean we’re supposed to be praying aloud as we work, but to bring light to society through our work and uplift the dignity of the human person, make sure people are treated well. Fr. Matt recalled the example of Pope John Paul II in seeing every person as a unique gift.
Scot and Fr. Matt then discussed the parable of the Good Samaritan as Cardinal Seán mentioned it in his homily. Forgiveness was brought up as was the idea that Jesus called the disciples to go beyond the minimum standard of not breaking the Commandments to doing everything one can to love. We are called to be compassionate to others, especially those who have hurt us.
Now they listened to the second section of the Cardinal’s homily.
At the conclusion of the homily, Scot summarized what we heard: A call to defend those who are vulnerable, especially if physician-assisted suicide passes in the Commonwealth. Fr. Matt sad he can’t recall that the cardinal has been more vocal about any other issue in his eight years here.
Scot said the Cardinal said that Good Samaritan felt compassion for the victim of robbery, a person who was supposed to be his enemy. The Greek word used for compassion there is only used one other time in the Gospel: when Jesus had compassion on the crowds before the feeding of the five thousand. The sense of the word is that the need we see in others creates an obligation of love in us.
Cardinal Seán talked about the witness of Mother Teresa, literally carrying the dying on her back to an abandoned former Hindu temple so they could die surrounded by the love of her sisters.
The cardinal spoke about three close friends who are in the active dying process and said he speaks from firsthand experience. He said laws born out of emotion don’t make the best laws. They are overly reactive. A good law must protect the vulnerable and this proposed legislation, Question Two, provides much more protection for those who assist others in taking their own life than it provides for the vulnerable. It doesn’t require palliative care. It doesn’t require them to consult a psychiatrist to ensure that their requesting suicide isn’t born out of depression or other mental illness. It doesn’t require that a spouse should be informed about the request for suicide.
Fr. Matt said to have the heart of Christ is to have a heart for every person. He talked about how in youth ministry they do an exercise called the Lifeboat where the youth end up debating who deserves to stay in the theoretical lifeboat and who doesn’t, rather than express that everyone deserves life. He then shared a conversation he had with a Buddhist about the value of every human being.
Cardinal Seán finished his homily by talking about the epidemic of suicide in our culture. He said that the rate of suicide in the armed forces surpasses combat deaths. He said Oregon, where assisted suicide is legal, has a very high general suicide rate. How can a state that promotes suicide for one category of people and then say suicide is wrong for everyone else? the alternative is to build a civilization of love through palliative care and through hospice and other places where committed caregivers create love. Fr. Matt said as a priest it is a privilege to walk with families as the accompany a loved one on the journey at the end of life.