Catholic Consideration For Our Earthly Passing
NOW AND AT THE HOUR OF OUR DEATH
We prepare for eternal life by choosing to love and follow God now, in our daily lives and decisions. For example, through prayer and regular reception of the sacraments, especially Confession and the Eucharist, we obtain grace to live in ever-deeper communion with God and with one another in lives of faith, charity, and justice. We ask for Our Blessed Mother’s help now, and we entrust ourselves to her further as we “surrender ‘the hour of our death’ wholly to her care.
FORMING OUR CONSCIENCES
Our journey with Christ naturally includes equipping our consciences to make morally good judgments and acting accordingly. Learning about the dignity of human life and the indispensable respect for it, 5 as well as applicable principles for medical care, is particularly important in preparing for our eventual passing.
Some bishops offer guides applying moral principles to local legal options. Parish and online resources are also widely available for careful and prayerful study, and the Ethical and Religious Directives from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops give direction for health care services to those who are seriously ill or dying.
A NOTE ON GENERAL PRINCIPLES
No summary can substitute for thorough catechesis, but some general principles are clear. We are entrusted by God with the gift of life, and in response, we care for our lives and health in obedience and gratitude to our Creator. This obliges us to make use of appropriate, effective medical care. However, even effective treatments may at times impose such a great burden that we, in good conscience, may forgo or discontinue them. This applies even to life-sustaining treatments. Of course, nothing should be done or deliberately omitted to hasten death.
The Church affirms the inviolable dignity of every person, regardless of the duration or extent of the person’s incapacity or dependency. Nothing diminishes the unchangeable dignity and sanctity of a person’s life, or the obligation to protect and care for it. In principle, assisted feeding and hydration should be provided unless it cannot sustain life or is unduly burdensome to the patient, or if death is imminent whether it is provided or not. Moreover, no one should choose suicide, nor counsel or assist another to take his or her own life.
If you wish to read the full article, visit their website at www.respectlife.org/end-of-life-considerations.
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