Parenting; Cohabitation; Humanae vitae

Q         Because I’m divorced, my teenager now thinks it’s better in his future life if he lives with a girl first before deciding to marry her, in case it does not work out. I don’t agree with this but I can’t seem to convince him. I just wonder if you have any tips on what I could say to him?   From a Concerned Parent.

A         Dear Concerned Parent,

Before I can make any suggestions or give you any tips as to what you can say, allow me to discuss some preliminary matters and give you some background information.  Your son is not alone in his thoughts.  Not to mitigate your sons personal experience and concerns, he is also echoing the sentiments of the majority of his generation.  According to Trent Horn and Leila Miller’s excellent resource (Available to borrow from the Eparchial Family and Life Office)  Made This Way: How to Prepare Kids to Face Today’s Tough Moral Questions (2018: Catholic Answers Press), 27, “Thirty years ago, less than half of high school seniors supported cohabiting before marriage, to today two-thirds of them agree with this statement:  ‘It is usually a good idea for a couple to live together before getting married in order to find out whether they really get along’”.  I would suggest that it is an even greater proportion of youth that would agree with the statement today (as that statistic is based on a study done in the early 2000’s) as the usual paradigm youth tend to see as normative regarding finding a mate goes something along the lines of…first you date, then you have sex (although not necessarily in that order), then you live together and if things really go well you may decide to get married. We are told that a recent Angus Reid Poll has shown that more than half of all Canadians think there is no need to marry at all. (https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/couples-who-spend-their-lives-together-dont-need-to-legally-marry-say-more-than-50-of-canadians-in-new-poll )  Sadly, it does not seem that Catholics are immune from these world views as the number of marriages in our churches has plummeted in the past 40 years and of those who present themselves for marriage over 80% are sexually active and often living together. I am not suggesting that these views should be normative but rather that they simply are the prevailing world views in 21st C. Canada.

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Eastern Christian Prayer; Rosary; Jesus Prayer

Q         We have daily prayers to God the Father, to the Holy Spirit, to the Virgin Mary. Why don’t we have a meaningful daily prayer to Jesus? The Jesus Prayer is too short and very one-dimensional: …”have mercy on me a sinner” and all it does is ‘ask’- repeatedly. I crave for a prayer that is more than that, where I can glorify, praise, thank, and worship Jesus as our teacher, our saviour, and our resurrection. Jesus is more than someone to go to just for mercy. If we have a prayer like that, please give it to me.

Prayerfully Pondering

A         Dear Prayerfully Pondering,

I would recommend to you a very simple and accessible resource available from the Religious Education Center (UCREC)  rel.ed@sasktel.net .  It is a book of prayers entitled Beneath the Mantle of Your Mercy:  A Devotional Prayer Book.  (Published by the Edmonton Eparchial Catechetical Commission, Complied by Fr. Peter Babej, 2010).  This book offers perhaps a bit deeper understanding of the Jesus Prayer—“Lord Jesus Son of the Living God have mercy on me a sinner”– than understanding it as mere prayer of petition (p. 239).  Rather, the prayer contains:

  1. The proclamation of Christ as my Lord and my God. It is a personal appropriation of this statement and acknowledgement that we are not the Lord of our lives—Jesus is. 
  2. It is also a statement that Jesus is the Christ and so our personal saviour.
  3. He is the Son of the “living God”, so not a God that perhaps was Creator but takes no active ongoing interest in our lives, but rather a God who is alive and who sustains and takes an active interest in His creation.
  4. All these acknowledgements are profound acts of reverence and worship. They also are statements of not only profound humility—I am a sinner—but also reflect the reality that I need God’s mercy if every aspect of my life.

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Power of Attorney; Catholic Health Ethics Guide; Euthanasia-Assisted Suicide

Q         I hold an Enduring Power of Attorney for an elderly Ukrainian Catholic who is 90+ years of age & suffers from dementia.  What is the position of the Church on “end of life” care for someone in these circumstances?  Are CPR & intubation considered “extraordinary measures”?  My research indicates that resuscitation would result in further suffering & diminished quality of life; there is also a risk of further injury such as broken ribs, lung damage, internal bleeding, etc..
I want to “do right” by this person but I’m conflicted by their religious beliefs.
Thank you. 

Trying to “do right”

A         Dear Trying,

To be clear the real question is if there is a conflict between your beliefs and theirs? Ideally you would have discussed this with the person for whom you speak as Power of Attorney.  However, if all you know is that he or she would want you to follow the teachings of the Catholic Church, please understand that those teachings do not require that extraordinary measures be taken to preserve life in every circumstance, particularly in the type of circumstances that you outline.  An excellent resource that you might refer to is the Catholic Health Ethics Guide (Ottawa: Catholic Health Alliance, 2012; available through the Catholic Health Association of Saskatchewan https://chassk.ca/publications/ ). It is easy to read and an accurate statement of Catholic health ethics. I would refer you in particular to Chapter 4 on end of life care.  For instance, on p. 65, para. 86 it talks about CPR and says the following:

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is an aggressive treatment used in situations of unexpected cardiac arrest.  When deciding about CPR or about orders not to attempt resuscitation, both the potential benefits and burdens should be duly considered and patients should be encouraged to discuss this treatment with their health care providers.  However, it is not ordinarily indicated for persons who have reached the ends stages of a progressive fatal condition. (See articles 74, 89)

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Icons; Role of women-church

Q         I am writing to you with the following concerns.
1) The Catechism of the Ukrainian Catholic Church is presented with the icon on the cover and one other inside showing Jesus’ hand extended to Adam only with Adam’s back turned to the sad face of Eve. I find this abhorrent!
Icons have a strong symbolic meaning and for women, represented by Eve, to be excluded from salvation is unthinkable. This is deeply wounding. It stabs me in the heart and gut to walk into my church of 75 years to have to face the fact that this is how women are viewed. We may be told that this is not what is meant, however, the icon gives graphic visual endorsement to the second-class status of women around the world.
The resurrection is a central teaching of hope for all. How can women be left out of this? the icon writer comes from Lviv. This seems to be placing the value of the writer above half of the faithful. I request that this be addressed by our Patriarch and corrected.

2) Related to this issue, I request that the language used to address the people attending church services be inclusive. Some clergy are being present to the congregation by saying “Brothers and sisters”. Could this not become an everyday occurrence by all the clergy to give respect to the presence of women please?
I humbly submit my request to be heard.

Respectfully Calling for Respect

A         Dear Respectfully calling for Respect,

I have always found that a good icon evokes and accentuates what is already in my heart. In this instance, it appears that you have been marginalized for some time because you are a women. You raise a good point about the icon because I have never noticed this version of the icon until you mentioned it. Most versions of this icon have Jesus grabbing the arms of both Adam and Eve. There is one that clearly has Jesus facing Adam and not Eve. But then again there are many icons that Jesus faces one or more people while one or more others that are present (not just Eve) are not being faced by Him. Awareness of His presence and of the Trinity is salvation and is not limited to physically grabbing an arm. 

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Eparchial Ministries; Eparchial Appeal; Team Approach

Q         Why is it that in the Eparchy of Saskatoon we have undergone four campaigns of an “Eparchial Appeal” to fund various Great ministries like Family Life Office, Youth & Young Adults, UCREC, Communications and now Human Development & Sustainability and our Clergy DO NOT Even Invite, Make Room or Space to host them in our struggling Parishes to make them More Vibrant and Fully Alive ?

 

These great Evangelizers of Laity should be booked and in every parish on a consistent if not monthly basis.

Please for the Love of Jesus Christ & His Beloved Church, Invite them all and let them share their Gifts

Our Faithful need these “Teachers” now
Eg. Theology of the Body understanding; catechesis…

 

Our priests should not have to be trying to do it all by themselves.

Calling for Renewal

A         Dear Calling for Renewal,

Change, any change is difficult.  We need to be careful that we do not make it seem that our ability to see these needs is taken in any way as a diminishment of the very important role of the Clergy or a suggestion that they are inadequate to the tasks before them.  I am probably safe in assuming that you are not trying to do that but we must be very clear.  The Clergy are our spiritual Fathers and leaders and they provide us with that which is central to living out our faith—the sacraments.  However, I think what you are trying to say is that in these challenging times many of the faithful are feeling like they need more—more formation and practical instruction to navigate the complexities of the modern world.  That is completely fair and sometimes we, as the people in the pews, can experience some frustration about this as we experience our values and beliefs dismissed and devalued in the world around us.  I get it.  Sunday Liturgy and even solid involvement in Parish life is not enough to help us feel confident to stand our ground in a world of sliding scales and shifting ground.  That is why our Bishop and the Church world wide has moved towards calling forth the laity to active ministry—and all of us are called in some way or another. 

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