Photo from Unsplash

Charles Lewis: Frustrations with euthanasia

  • October 31, 2018

On rare occasions I get clear signals of what needs to be done in my life. When it comes, it arrives through people I respect. Each gives me the answer I need but I did not know I needed till I heard it. 

It has fortunately come when I feel stuck at some crossroads and do not know which way to go. I mull it over and over but never move forward. My confusion builds and soon a sense of frustration descends.

Frustration to me is a red light that despair, a mortal sin, is next.

In late 2013 I was still recovering from massive spinal surgery but I decided to try to go back to work at the National Post. I did not last long. When I took morphine to deal with the pain things were a blur; when I skipped the morphine the pain was so bad I could not concentrate. 

I mentioned this to my doctor. She said, “Have you thought of retiring?” An hour later I was in the office of my physiotherapist and without prompting she asked, “Why are you still working?” The next morning my wife said over breakfast, “Don’t you think it’s time to quit?”

And so on a Monday morning I said farewell to the National Post, a gut-wrenching decision I knew I could no longer avoid. 

There is the great story of a man stuck on his roof as floodwaters rise around him. He is certain God will come to his aid. Several rescuers come through the course of the day and offer him a way to safety — but each time he refuses believing God will intervene directly. Then the waters rise, drowning the poor man. When he gets to Heaven he complains to God that He never sent him the help he needed. To which God replies, “Who do you think sent those rescuers?”

I truly believe that God was telling me it was time to let go and he used three good women to make sure I did not drown in my own doubts and fear.

Now I have heard a new message that has also come in threes.

As many of you know, I have been attacking legalized euthanasia for ages. And many of you also know that I have a bad habit of complaining when others do not take it as seriously as me. 

I call it: “Frustrated Prophet Syndrome.”

To some extent my frustration is justified. Euthanasia is an evil. What has been especially alarming to me of late is the shrug of the shoulders that has greeted a Health Canada study looking at extending euthanasia to teens and the mentally ill. A report is due out by the end of the year.

To make matters worse, The Catholic Register dropped this bombshell in October:

“In a prestigious medical journal, doctors from Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children have laid out policies and procedures for administering medically assisted death to children, including scenarios where the parents would not be informed until after the child dies.”

The silence that has greeted this has been frightening.

So I brought this sense of frustration to two priests. Their message boiled down to this: Fix myself first. Eradicate my own sins. Pray more. Live a life that reflects the love of the Father. Live a life that indicates Christ has died for me so I may attain eternal life. Show more joy. Cut the whining.

Then a few weeks ago I attended an Opus Dei retreat for men. The speaker, a friend, talked about the chaos we are witnessing in the Church and the need for unity. He spoke about respect for Pope Francis even when we disagree with him. He talked about how to put the recent revelations of abuse into some perspective, while at the same time recognizing the crimes committed in our name.

Then he spoke about personal holiness. That at times like these the best thing we can do is fix ourselves. As this same friend said to me later: Gloominess born of despair sends the message we have given up on God. Whereas joy sends the message that we trust God’s providence. 

St. Julian of Norwich said it best: “All will be well, all manner of things will be well.” I pray it so.

(Lewis is a Toronto writer and regular contributor to The Register.)

Please support The Catholic Register

Unlike many media companies, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our website. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith-based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.