You hear it all the time these days, “I hope I die in my sleep”, “I don’t want to suffer”, “Pull the Plug”. Not me. Don’t touch that plug. I want— scratch that — I need a long, slow, painful death.
A recent poll in Canada showed large support for doctor-assisted suicide. Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute Moira McQueen commented, “If people have no concept of God, or life hereafter, it’s as if they just want to get it over with, and they will ask for death instead of waiting for it on its own terms.”
We want everything on our own terms. We have a right to everything on our own terms, or so we think. In our society, we have completely lost the understanding of the redemptive power of suffering. We have also lost the concept of reparation.
Frankly, it is no wonder that we have lost the understanding of the need for reparation. This is that natural consequence of a society that has jettisoned the concept of sin. Reparation, what could we possibly have to repair? Unfortunately, (actually fortunately) I have never had the luxury of convincing myself that sin was not sin and of minimizing the offense to God. I know what I need to repair.
To reacquaint ourselves with the concept of reparation, we need to understand what it means to cooperate in Christ suffering and what that means for us. St. Paul told us, “Now I rejoice in my suffering for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of His body, that is, the Church.” What this means is not that somehow Christ’s suffering was insufficient to the task of redeeming mankind. Certainly not. Rather, that in order for the merits of what Christ did for us to be applied to us we need to accept the suffering that comes our way, just as Christ did.
This brings me back back to my original point. I am a sinner and I know it. I need a long slow death. I am way too lazy and too chicken to perform any real penance now so I am relying on a slow painful death to make the necessary repairs. God knows that I have plenty for which I should make reparations. There was this time in my early twenties when I …….well, never mind that.
Anyway, there is no pulling the plug on me. As for the suffering of my family as my death drags on and on? Well, they too need to accept the suffering that has come their way and rejoice, for in their suffering they complete what is lacking in the suffering of Christ.