Kia tau te rangimarie ki a koutou. Last Saturday the Prayer of the Church which we know as the Office of Readings contained words from “the dialogue On Divine Providence by Saint Catherine of Siena.” Some of her words I reflected on were the following…these are words Catherine heard God speaking to her: ‘O dearest daughter, I have determined to show my mercy and loving kindness to the world, and I choose to provide for humankind all that is good. But man (humans), ignorant, turns into a death-giving thing what I gave in order to give life.’
I was praying with these words the day after the result of the Referendum on the End of Life Choice Bill had been announced, therefore, for me the words St Catherine heard in prayer seemed to be particularly apt ‘But man (humans), ignorant, turns into a death-giving thing what I gave in order to give life.’
Now that the result of the referendum has revealed that 65% of New Zealanders voted for the possibility for New Zealanders to ask a doctor to help end their life, the gift of life given by God, I believe we need to be even more vigilant and outspoken about protecting, defending and promoting the dignity of human life. We heard many times that this is a dangerous and a very risky law. Now it will come into effect in a year’s time. When something become law there is a danger that more and more people will think that because it is civilly legal to end a life that it is also moral.
We know that Governments and international institutions have promoted abortion and euthanasia as marks of progress and freedom. This is a false and perverse understanding in which freedom is equated with absolute individualism. Pope John Paul II reminded us in his Encyclical “The Gospel of Life” (1995) that “True freedom is inherently relational, recognizing that God has entrusted us to one another. As cultures and societies fail to recognize these objective truths, everything becomes relative and all principles are called into question—even the fundamental right to life. Society as a whole must respect, defend and promote the dignity of every human person, at every moment and in every condition of that person’s life. Our lives are a gift from God and ultimately belong to him. God has sole authority over life and death. We are therefore called to reverence and love every human person, loving our neighbours as ourselves. It is our responsibility to care for and protect human life, especially the lives of the most vulnerable among us.”
It is up to us now to continue teaching one another, supporting one another, and rejoicing in the gift of life, showing our society that we are the people of life and a people for life. We do not give up because the End of Life Choice Bill has become law, instead we recall those words Catherine of Siena heard, “I have determined to show my mercy and loving kindness to the world, and I choose to provide for humankind all that is good.”
Prayer from “The Gospel of Life” Pope John Paul II
O Mary, bright dawn of the new world,
Mother of the living, to you do we entrust the cause of life.
Look down, O Mother, upon the vast numbers of babies not allowed to be born,
of the poor whose lives are made difficult,
of men and women who are victims of brutal violence, of the elderly
and the sick killed by indifference or out of misguided mercy.
Grant that all who believe in your Son may proclaim the Gospel of life with honesty and love to the people of our time.
Obtain for them the grace to accept that Gospel as a gift ever new, the joy of celebrating it with gratitude throughout their lives and the courage to bear witness to it resolutely, in order to build, together with all people of good will, the civilization of truth and love, to the praise and glory of God, the Creator and lover of life.