Friday, 28 September 2007

Redemptive Suffering

As you will see, if you look at my ‘Complete Profile’, I describe my ‘Occupation’ as ‘Disabled’. And so it is. And so be it. This is how I spend my time: being disabled (see my other blogs - ‘Travels with Lucy’ and ‘MS -My Scene’ for details!). And that’s what I get paid for (sorry tax-payers!) through Income Support and Disability Living Allowance (DLA) – to do it and do it in style, to the best of my (dis)ability. Putting 100% effort into living with this degenerative neurological disease (MS) and making it “useful” for society. (Well, that last bit is not a prerequisite of course, society is judged by how it treats its weakest members and we are, in Britain, (thus far) holding on to some vestige of decency. If not in a Christian way, then at least humanistically, we are bound by that principle to support, in every way, the least “fortunate” among us). No, that’s my thing, to prove my “use”.

Because really I’m being facetious, possibly sarcastic. I am saying to you (some – too many – of you), “Okay, so you think I’m useless, you espouse euthanasia, and you hate me for reminding you that life can be anything but perfect. And I don’t think I owe it to you, but because I know it is the general concensus among you, and now, oh horrors, I know my own son agrees with you (which is what drove me to this piece) I am going to show you why you are wrong and, hopefully, change your attitude – not only to disability but to life in general. It’s not half as bad as you think it is you know!”

You see, I do not want Tom (my son, 27), or any young person to grow up believing life is cheap. Just another part of our throw-away culture.

That babies can be slaughtered while still in the womb, because the thought of their being, was just a little inconvenient at the time of their conception. For abortion/murder to be made acceptable/polite through the verbal engineering of the language we conform to i.e. “human rights” (of mother); “freedom of choice” (for mother), and then, “political correctness” (towards everyone “right” or “wong”), which has us all tied up in knots. We imitate this speech (much of it from the likes of the BBC) at our peril.

I do not want my son to sit idly by, and bat not an eyelid, when another person we don’t hear about gets a lethal injection of morphine. Because a doctor with a smart accent and a God-complex has persuaded kith and kin that their loved one can’t take any more pain.

And I cannot bear that one more person should be the victim of such barbaric murder as was Terri Schiavo (1963-2005) in the Florida Nursing Home when they took away her feeding-tube and intravenous drip. When they starved and dehydrated her though 13 agonising days and nights, till she died. Just because in her, alleged, “post-collapse" "permanent vegatitive state” (arguable), the courts sided with her ex-husband and allowed his choice to end her life.

Even though Teri’s own – Roman Catholic – family had fought to the last minute to take her to their home and tend her for the rest of her natural days.

And all, as our dear Pope John Paul II (1920-2005) – “the Great” – was slipping away to his home in Heaven. Along with his feeding-tube and drip – all the way. To “sleep” with true dignity.

And then we come to “Dignitas” – in Switzerland. Hah!

The secular, “dignified” death of self-willed murder or suicide that the clinic offers you in your own chosen cocktail (or is it a fruit-juice?!) mixed with (I imagine) barbituates!

God protect us from this evil!

I do not want my son to belong, in any way, to this “Culture of Death” as JPII described it.

And so it was that when Tom saw that I had answered ‘Disabled’ to ‘Occupation?’ and queried why I had done so, instead of stating ‘journalist’, as I was, or writer, as I try to be, I was devastated.

Is there something to be ashamed of in being disabled? Something intrinsically degrading? No of course not. But I was repeating myself again. The “lecture” he had reeived, in various snippets and forms, so many times before, had begun one more time.

And I am tired – actually, chronically fatigued – so this time I thought I should write it – as best I can – for posterity!

And for you.

Because it’s good.

Jesus told us (Luke 9:23): “...deny [yourself], take up [your] cross daily and follow me.”


Couldn’t be easier.

As a Roman Catholic I believe that my suffering can be “offered up” to Christ on the cross as a sacrifice. Not only in repentance for my own sins, but for those of the world. That I can unite with His prayers for the sake of the Church and for conversions generally. So that we, as one body, the Church, which is the ‘bride of Christ’ (Rev 21:2), may be beautifully present at the ‘marriage supper’ of the Last Day (Rev 19:9).

Even comatose, people can be living a prayer in their souls.

So don’t ever say to me, “disabled people serve no purpose”.

And don’t ever imagine you have the right to end their God-given life.

One day you might be thankful for their “work”!

RSV Bible online

Friday, 21 September 2007


It’s a wonderful thing that on the verge of publishing my first two blogs – ‘Travels with Lucy’ and ‘MS - My Scene’ – I have nothing to be angry about here.

Wonderful, but worrying.

Because that’s what ‘Comment Column’ was set up for. I needed a platform from which I could unload all my frustrations and annoyances – my blazing angers – with the world. And, right now, I haven’t got any.

In fact it’s worse than that: I just deleted a couple of drafts I had waiting in the wings. I mean, I guess time has moved on and those initial passions are no longer the burning issues they once were (shows why these things should be completed and put out there immediately!) but they do still matter. Just not so much, to me, now.

I’m just not incensed by anything.

So I should celebrate...

St. Josemaria Escriva (founder of Opus Dei – L Works of God) said: “Why look around when you carry your world within you?” and I think, praise God, that’s what it’s all about.

Here, humanly alone (only my toy poodle, Lucy, physically with me) and at peace in my MS "bubble", it is easy to ignore all the wrongs of our times and focus solely (unintended pun), on the time to come. Life beyond this one.

I guess I’m dying (I know my nervous system is).

But blessed, because it doesn’t worry me. I have time and have had time - years now, housebound by fatigue and pain – to be with God. To carry my cross with Jesus. And to call upon the Holy Spirit for guidance, continually.

I feel the comfort of the arms of Mother Mary. Know the friendship, tears and laughter of the Saints.

And by the grace of God have EWTN to travel with me in this world.

Oh, sometimes I get agitated by the basic business of living: the bladder and bowels; Lucy’s bowels!; having to keep clean (enough to be seen by Tom or a priest - and lice-free!). Sometimes it is as though Tom has pierced my heart with the (unnecessary) pain he can cause. But it’s all love.

I love to be alive to have these things to deal with. I love to be able to “offer them up”, to unite with Christ’s Passion for the sake of the Church. And the world and its hurting. I love that I may be able to help others with my prayers.

That’s what it’s all about. And why I’ve got nothing to write about here – today!

I’m here but also there. It’s hard but also easy. I get angry but I forgive.

And Tom – my precious son – will be home soon.