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As I write this, I have just received word of the death of a beautiful woman.  She was a wife, a mother, a nurse, a friend to many, and much more.

For the last several years she has suffered from dementia.  Her beautiful spirit could not express itself as she used to. 

She has helped so many over so many years.

I remember so well the great care that she gave to one of our priests who died young, from cancer, so many years ago.

She helped so many others find peace in illness and in the dying process. 

One of her sons sent me the news of her death, ‘after three days of slow departure, our fabulous mother died this afternoon’.

Our bodies, made from matter as they are, deteriorate and are limited.  However, our human spirit is not minimised by these limitations.

I recently saw a video of another lady who used to be a former ballerina, now elderly and suffering from dementia.  Someone put on the music of ‘Swan Lake’ for her to listen to.  She was in a chair but started dancing to the tune and rhythm of that music.  It was so beautiful to watch!

One of our core beliefs is the inalienable dignity and rights of the human person.

Over history we have seen the consequences when this is forgotten or abused. 

The vile experiments done by the Nazi doctors on embryos, babies, and other human beings.  The millions abused in concentration camps and, sadly, so many other occasions.

We are stretching boundaries in dealing with the unborn and the dying.  I know that these are complex and not simplistic questions.

However, the sanctity of human life is threatened and challenged in our times; is so precious and so real for us who believe that there is a God, and that we are created in the image of God.

Going back to this lady who died today, I feel so blessed and honoured to have had her share a part of my life.  She worked in the hospice and lovingly helped so many to leave in peace.  I am sure they are there to welcome her into the fullness of life.


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