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Patients in Final Stage of Life &
Communion Given by Angels

Vegetative Life
People Commenting
Dear TIA,

I need a small favor from you.

I don't remember how the matter got broached, but the last time I was visiting you, the subject came up about patients in the "vegetative state." The issue, as you will recall, took a primary spot in religious news for months if not more, about the Theresa Marie Schiavo case in Florida.

The litigation centered on the issue of the moral duty to provide artificial hydration and nutrition. The Church during this legal battle virtually declared it to be a doctrinal matter that, no matter how long the state of the patient in this condition, artificial hydration and nutrition was absolutely mandatory.

If my memory serves, you said that this virtual dogma surfaced according to modernist notions. Further, again if my memory serves, you referenced the traditional Church teaching on this matter, but I don't remember the specifics.

Years ago, when my wife and I made up our Living Trust, the instructions we laid down on this matter to our lawyer, was of the modernist notion, vis-a-vis the Schiavo case. I'm presently in the process of updating my Living Trust. In California this is a vitally important document, so that when I die my estate goes directly into the hands of our children and completely bypasses any probate court, and of course gives instructions on other matters.

I will greatly appreciate it if you could draft a simple "one liner" type of the language on this subject according to the traditional teaching of the Church, so my lawyer will denote the proper instructions in writing, which will be binding on my family to follow.

I hope all of you are well. My best to all.

     In Domina,

     L.J.A.

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TIA responds:

Dear Mr. L.J.A.,

As far as we know, the traditional criterion to deal with a sick person was the objective stage of his life. When his life would enter a final vegetative stage - being artificially sustained by machines without any hope of returning to his normal rational life - the family should ask a priest to give him the last rites and family members should be warned to come and see him for the last time. Then, when these religious and family requirements are fulfilled, the head of the family, representing the other members and in agreement with them, should tell the doctors to stop the machines that were keeping the person alive.

In August 2007, Cardinal William Levada, as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, issued a new document, approved by Benedict XVI, changing this traditional procedure. According to it, artificial life should be maintained indefinitely because the measures to sustain life are "ordinary and proportionate," that is, today's procedures of feeding are very common, easy and beneficial for the person.

So, new criteria entered the picture: Instead of being the objective stage of the person's life, now the criteria are the technological advances and their accessibility - that is, whether they are common or not.

It seems that the affirmation that indefinite artificial feeding by tubes is beneficial is quite open to discussion, according to a well-documented article by Prof. Thomas A. Shannon.

It also seems pointless to keep a person alive artifically for an indefinite time if there is no hope of him returning to a normal rational life. It does not seem so different than the pagan practice of people who ask to be frozen before they die, hoping that someday someone will find the cure for the fatal disease they had.

Notwithstanding the issues discussed in the two last paragraphs, the main point is that the Conciliar Church moved from the absolute traditional Catholic criterion to an evolving and relative one, which is the question of how efficient and common the new technological machines to sustain life are.

We hope that this distinction of criteria is what you are seeking.

     Cordially,

     TIA correspondence desk

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Precious Stones
People Commenting
TIA,

Is there any particular reason for the jeweled background for your site? Are they emeralds and lapis lazuli?

J.R.

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TIA responds:

A Carolingean Reliquary studded with jewels
J.R.,

Yes, the jeweled background was chosen to fit with our logo, which is Charlemagne on horseback with his peers, Roland and Olivier, on either side.

This type of background was often used in Carolingean art, as seen in the Reliquary of St. Stephen at right, which contained bits of earth soaked with the blood of the Proto-Martyr.

We do not know for sure what precious stones were used in that period, but they look like emeralds and lapis lazuli, or perhaps sapphires.

     Cordially,

     TIA correspondence desk

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Baptism by Angels
People Commenting
Dear TIA,

I have a question and know TIA can help me.

According to traditional Catholicism, the consecrated Host is to be given to the faithful only by the consecrated hands of the priest. I read the story of Fatima where Lucy and the other seers are first visited by the Angel of Portugal. The Angel gives them the Sacred Host on the tongue and the Precious Blood from a chalice.

Lucy relates, "We got up again to see what was happening, and we saw the Angel again, who had in his left hand a Chalice over which was suspended a Host, from which some drops of Blood fell into the Chalice."

Can an Angel give Holy Communion which is the sole power of the priest? If so, can an Angel also administer baptism in case of an emergency when a dying person requires it? These are some questions that cropped up in my mind, which I hope you can answer.

I like your website and visit it daily. Thanks for all the good work.

     L.B.

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TIA responds:

Dear L.B.,

As far as we know Angels can transport a consecrated Host from a place to another and give it to one of the faithful. This is not an ordinary action, but an extraordinary one that is believed to have happened on very rare occasions for a special design of God. For example, it is believed that when Our Lord instituted the Holy Mass at the Last Supper, an Angel transported one of the Hosts to Our Lady, who was not present, so that she could be one of the first persons to receive Communion.

The act of transporting a Host does not mean that an Angel can effect a Sacrament. It seems that since the Catholic Church is a visible society composed of men, the Sacraments must be effected by consecrated men, priests, not by Angels. The Sacraments are spiritual-material realities effected by the priest using his human senses - his hands to gesture, his ears to hear, his mouth to speak - following a pre-established formula and with a determined intention. Angels do not have human senses and, therefore, cannot effect Sacraments.

Hence, it seems they cannot baptize persons, even in extraordinary cases as you noted.

     Cordially,

     TIA correspondence desk
Posted March 18, 2010

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The opinions expressed in this section - What People Are Commenting -
do not necessarily express those of TIA


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