Suffering best shared with God and Christ
To the editor:
I read with interest the June Eagle columns and letters to the editor regarding end-of-life issues. The discussion has been enlightening, and I'm glad for the varied points of view expressed on this important topic. That said, I disagree with Rev. Art Kaufman's endorsement of "physician-assisted dying," better described, I think, as physician-assisted-suicide.
I'm grateful for Rev. Kaufman's presence and work in counseling "parishioners and patients nearing the end of their lives" with their physical, emotional, and spiritual pain; it's noble work, and I'm sure he has helped many people. Upsetting to me, however, is a minister of Christ urging those experiencing pain and suffering toward suicide instead of toward sharing their suffering with God and Christ.
C. S. Lewis In "Mere Christianity" says that a distinguishing characteristic of all Christians is our belief that we will live forever. Those who love God, keep His covenant, and live according to His Word (to the end) acknowledge God's sovereignty, embrace their suffering to the extent possible with a sincere desire to imitate Christ, and trust God to deliver their souls to heaven where, as adopted sons and daughters, they can share eternity with Him. Although Christians may not understand it completely, an important component of salvation is sharing in the Pascal Mystery of Christ's suffering, death and resurrection. Those who choose to live otherwise turn their backs on God and presume on His mercy.
Christ said, "I am the Truth, the Way and the Life." The truth is God loves us. The Way is to pick up our crosses and follow Jesus — to the end. The Life is eternal life in heaven.
I'm sorry to say it, but Rev. Kaufman offers bad Christian counsel. Following his logic, it boils down to this: Do not trust in God and pay no attention to His promise; do not worry about eternity; do not worry about God's Word ("Thou shalt not kill); do not worry about God's sovereignty and will (as Jesus did at the hour of His death), you call the shots; and, contrary to Jesus' teaching, stop carrying that heavy cross God is asking you to shoulder.
Suicide may be tempting at the end of life, and it takes courage and strength to stay the course, but do keep praying: "Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil."
Stephen P. Garrity, Pittsfield