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ANNUAL DAY FOR LIFE - 16TH JUNE 2024 - RESOURCES

By the Council for Life, Irish Bishops Conference



MESSSAGE FOR THE DAY FOR LIFE 2024

“The Lord is my Shepherd – Compassion and Hope at the End of Life”


There has been much discussion in the media recently about “assisted suicide”, whereby people who feel they are overburdened by suffering will be facilitated in bringing their lives to a premature end by a change in legislation. The Catholic Church opposes such proposals. As Catholics, along with many people of other faiths and none, we share a different vision about what it is to be fully human, especially when we are suffering and approaching death in the hope of eternal life. People who are coming towards the end of their lives are vulnerable, and recent research shows that many feel themselves a burden on their loved ones and wider society. Jesus shows us that life always has dignity and that there is no such a thing as a useless life. We are called to defend this gift of life to its natural end and to protect vulnerable citizens from a culture that could pressure them into assisted suicide. We support people with the companionship of a listening ear, appropriate treatment, and the best of care, so that their last days can be times of grace, intimacy and love.

Jesus did not send the sick away. Our Lady remained at the foot of the Cross to the very end as Her Son, Jesus, died. Mary is the model of compassionate presence and prayer whom we are called to imitate. People close to death and their loved ones, often go through similar darkness and pain but can come to a more complete acceptance and find peace in those treasured last moments accompanied by spiritual care.

(Bishop Kevin Doran, Bishop John Keenan and Bishop John Sherrington, representing the Bishops Conferences of Ireland, Scotland and England & Wales)

 

Meeting Matt – the experience of one priest.  

I first met Matthew when he was about twenty. His girlfriend, Claire, called into the house one day and asked if she could bring her boyfriend for a blessing, because he had been in hospital having treatment for Leukaemia. He was back home, but he still couldn’t go into public spaces because of the risk of infection. She suggested that she would bring Matt to meet me the following Saturday.

To be honest, when I saw him first, Matt looked a lot healthier and stronger than I had expected. The impression changed a bit, when he took off the wooly hat, because he had lost all his hair from the chemotherapy. We chatted for a while, initially about themselves and then about Matt’s illness. He was hopeful, but realistic. They had opened a door for me by asking if Matt could have a blessing. We ended up celebrating the anointing of the sick and I gave them Holy Communion.

We kept in regular contact after that and I got to know Matt and his family fairly well. A few months later, the leukaemia took hold again and he was back in hospital. It soon became clear, however, that Matt was not getting better, so he decided to come home and spend his final weeks surrounded by his family. There was nothing more that medical science could do. Matt was dying, but he was still surrounded by a community of care. The hospice team called regularly. Matt’s bed was in an alcove off the sitting room. His parents and siblings and, of course, Claire, accompanied him with love every step of the way.

A couple of days before he died, Matt asked me to come and say Mass for him in the house. He told me he had picked the Gospel himself; the well-known passage from St John: “I have given you a new commandment, love one another as I have loved you”. As I was setting up for the Mass, Matt said: “If it’s ok, I’d like to say a few words after the Gospel.” He spoke very simply to those who were gathered around him about how, like Jesus in the Gospel, he would be leaving them very soon. He reassured them that, throughout the experience of his illness, he had felt surrounded by love, and he encouraged them to continue loving one another”. That was it; nothing complicated, but very powerful.

Matt did not just live with dignity through his final illness; he grew in his humanity and in his faith. All we had to do was to accompany him and to make sure that he never felt abandoned or alone. It was the story of the Good Samaritan in real life.


PARISH NEWSLETTER CONTENT



‘Day for Life’: a dedicated day celebrating the beauty and dignity of all human life


Day for Life Sunday is celebrated annually with a special message by the Catholic Church across Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales. It is a day specifically dedicated to raising awareness and reflecting on the deep value and meaning of human life at every stage, and in every condition. On Sunday 16 June, the Church will mark Day for Life 2024 with a message on the theme: The Lord is my shepherd - Compassion and Hope at the End of Life.


This year’s message reminds us that Jesus did not send the sick away, rather He showed that life always has dignity and that there is no such a thing as a useless life. Catholics are called to defend this gift of life to its natural end and to protect vulnerable citizens from a culture that could pressure them into assisted suicide. In this way, we are encouraged to support people with the companionship of a listening ear, appropriate treatment, and the best of care, so that their last days can be times of grace, intimacy and love.


This message also includes a brief human-interest story about a young man named Matt, and the experience of a priest who ministered to Matt and his loved ones in his final months and days. This grace-filled time proved to be a period of intense compassion and profound dignity, as well as faith enriching experience of love and generosity for all concerned.

The Day for Life message is available on https://councilforlife.ie/day-for-life-2024/


INTERCESSIONS – Day for Life – June 16, 2024


Bishop/Priest/Deacon:

On this Day for Life, conscious in a particular way of the gift of human life which is entrusted to our care, we bring our prayers to God.

1. We pray for Pope Francis, as he himself bears witness to hope in the frailty of his advanced years – that the Lord may strengthen him and give him courage to complete the mission for which he has been sent. Lord hear us.


2. We pray for all who are faced with degenerative or terminal illness - that they may experience the healing presence of Christ in the care of those who accompany them day by day. Lord hear us.


3. We pray for those who form public policy and who enact our laws – that in their efforts to serve the common good, they may always have in mind the inherent dignity of every human person, which is not the gift of society, but the gift of a loving creator. Lord hear us.


4. We pray for healthcare professionals – that, even when a cure is no longer possible, they may continue to provide gentle and life-affirming care for all their patients. Lord hear us.


5. We pray for an end to war - may respect and peace be always at the heart of human relationships. Lord hear us.


6. We pray for our family members, friends and neighbours who have died - may they be surprised by joy as their best hopes are fulfilled in the Kingdom of heaven. Lord hear us.


Bishop/Priest/Deacon:

Lord “we proclaim your love in the morning and your truth in the watches of the night”. Be with us, as we accompany, in the morning and in the night, our sisters and brothers who live with terminal illness. Help us to be, for them, witnesses of your faithful love. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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