Tuesday, 16 May 2017 08:25

“Not Science, but Charity has Transformed the World” – Dr. Giuseppe Moscati

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An article I recently read, published by Catholic News Agency (CNA) on the 2nd of February 2017, titled ‘Doctor Cleared after Having Family ‘Hold Down’ Patient during Euthanasia’, highlights the many innocent lives that are lost in a world fuelled by money, greed and self-interests.

The value of a life, gifted and created by God, it seems, has no value in todays’world. The denial of life, is an outcry against God. It is an outright rejection of His love for us.

“For you love all things that exist, and detest none of the things that you have made; for you would not have made anything if you had hated it. How would anything have endured, if you had not willed it? Or how would anything not called forth by you have been preserved? You spare all things, for they are yours, O Lord, you who love the living.”Wisdom 11: 24-26.

I recall Fr. Rafael Alonso Reymundo, founder of the Home of the Mother, speaking of the necessity not only to speak against the injustices (of the world), but also to speak against sin.

“Whatever is opposed to life itself, such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia, or wilful self-destruction, whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself; whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where people are treated as mere instruments of gain rather than as free and responsible persons; all these things and others like them, are infamies indeed. They poison human society, and they do more harm to those who practicse them than to those who suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are a supreme dishonour to the Creator”Gaudium et Spes, 27.

The injustice of failing to honor the dignity of man (in honoring the value of their body and soul) and their right to fight for their life; the sin of killing someone in the name of ‘mercy’, by taking away their free will; in these cases, it seems that the culture of death, which is of the evil one, is encroaching the fundamental basis and values of the healthcare institution. Leaders (of countries, institutions and organizations) who do not practice the Catholic Faith, who honor profits, business deals, and self-interests, who fail to honor the full dignity of a person, establish laws within institutions that spread the culture of death, instead of promoting the value and sacredness of life that we ought to protect and uphold. Laws seem to be defining morals and setting standards in society today.

In some countries, laws have been passed allowing for a person’s gender to be recognized legally only after sterilization. However, some countries are pushing for options of gender selection to follow what a child feels or identifies with. Many celebrities support this idea by sharing videos of their consent to their children who innocently share their desires to be a boy or a girl or have a different genitalia.

The proliferation of media seems to speak for everyone. Even if it is wrong. The celebration of Bruce Jenner’s sex change landed him on the front cover of Vanity Fair with media sources applauding his bravery after so many years. It seems finally that he could be happy.

There has also been an increase in the number of children’s books with transgender themes since 2004. In 2014, a picture book titled “I am Jazz”, co-authored by transgender youth activist Jazz Jennings, aimed at children aged 4 – 8 years was published. She has since starred in commercials promoting skin care products and she even stars in her own reality television program depicting her everyday life.

It seems then to be quite true. Yes, there are people who identify with a gender that their natural reproductive organs do not assign them to. Yes, it is okay for me to choose my gender based on what I feel. Yes, once I live out what I feel, I will be happy and successful in life.

How can this be so when the laws written in our hearts speak of a different story? Pope Benedict XVI’s reply is quite apt when he says, “This is the age of sin against God the Creator”.

Society often tempts us to believe that the old, the traumatized, the wounded, and even those that are labelled as ‘incurable’ or ‘handicapped’, are ‘suffering’, and that we should extend ‘mercy’ to them by ending their misery, by giving in to their feelings so they feel better. After all, would it not be  better for one to be free from pain? Free from our physical body?

But is this really true?

“See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” – Matthew 10: 16.

As Catholics, we have to look at everything through the eyes of God. If God brings creation into being and existence; upholds and sustains them in being, enables a person to act, and is the one that brings them to their final end, should not we, and the laws that we create, encourage dependence and total service to Our Creator, who is the source of wisdom and freedom, of joy and confidence? (CCC 301).

While it is true that persons who are ill or wounded do not enjoy the privilege of full bodily functions, we fail to keep our eyes fixed on the soul of that person. While bumps and redness on a skin may indicate a rash, or a fever may indicate that the immune system of a person is under attack, excessive anger or excessive nervousness and anxiety indicate an imbalance in the interior life of a person.

External signs indicate an internal wound that only the presence of God can heal. When the Lord is the foundation of a person’s life, not even sickness can take away their joy, and their faith.

I recall once falling ill when I was visiting a community of religious. I had a high fever and a cough. As days passed, my fever subsided but my cough was still around. I was a little annoyed at this and expressed my frustration to one of the sisters who replied without skipping a beat, “You’ve got to take advantage of these situations and live your illness well so that you can offer it up for the suffering of the souls in purgatory.”

Wow! What encouragement! Immediately I felt ashamed that I had only been thinking of myself and my problems and my inconveniences. Her words not only reminded me of my selfish ways, but also reminded me of my soul! My body may be suffering, but my soul is alive. Her words reminded me not to forget that my dignity as a beloved child of God does not depend on the state of my physical being. My dignity as a beloved child of God depends on the immense love that He has for me. For I am created in his image and likeness (Gen 1: 27). I have a soul, therefore I have a body.

St. Giuseppe Moscati, a medical physician and pioneer in the field of biochemistry, was able to recognize the limited effectiveness of human medicine and the consoling power of religion. In writing to his former students, he would encourage them not only to treat ‘bodies, but also souls, with counsel that appeals to their minds and hearts rather than with cold prescriptions to be sent into the pharmacist.’ Once having examined a railroad worker whose condition was serious, he advised the man’s relatives to call for a priest, explaining to them that “one must first attend to the salvation of the soul, and only then to that of the body .” The remedies that he prescribed to his patients were given with encouragement to have faith in the cure.

"Only one science is unshakeable and unshaken, the one revealed by God, the science of the hereafter! In all your works, look to Heaven, to the eternity of life and of the soul, and orient yourself then much differently from the way that merely human considerations might suggest, and your activity will be inspired for the good” – St Moscati, in a letter to a colleague.

May the practice of the “holy physician of Naples” inspire us to pay attention to our souls first. To take care to nurture our souls by frequenting the sacraments (Confession and the Holy Eucharist), and then let God transform and work through us by extending and instilling Catholic values, values of the Truth, into our workplace.

Children of God here in this world as physicians, mothers, librarians, unemployed, managers and executives, St. John Paull II rallies us to persevere together to transform the world, through our daily lives. He invites us to learn to identify the right from wrong, to develop a critical sense of discerning true values and authentic needs in society today, so as to mobilize and form consciences and a have a united ethical effort to activate a great campaign supporting human life (EV 95), not only in our thoughts, words and actions, but all the more in laws and policies that structure the fabric of society.

May the holy physician of Naples and St. John Paul II inspire us to be the change in the world!

Soureces used in this article:

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/doctor-cleared-after-having-family-hold-down-patient-during-euthanasia-27234/

http://www.cmq.org.uk/CMQ/2012/Feb/01-moscati_st_joseph.html 

Michael J. Miller. "Joseph Moscati: Saint, doctor, and miracle-worker." Lay Witness (March/April 2004)

Ball, Ann. Saint Joseph Moscati, 1880 1927, Doctor of Charity. In Ball, Ann, Faces of Holiness: Modern Saints in Photos and Words, Volume 1. Pp 131 136. Huntington, Indiana; Our Sunday Visitor, Inc.

Pope John Paul II. 1995. Evangelium Vitae.

Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World. Gaudium et Spes, 27.

Stephanie Chia is from Singapore. She received a Bachelors' degree in Sociology and has worked as a research assistant refining pedagogy for teacher education. 

She met the Home of the Mother during the first retreat in Singapore conducted by the Servant Sisters in December 2015. 

Stephanie loves mountains and nature. She loves baking and chocolate! But is still trying to be fond of olives. In her spare time, she writes for the Home of the Mother about whatever inspires her and hopes that it would inspire you too.