In the wake of the highly-publicized suicide of a terminally ill young woman -- someone of the younger generation -- the floodgates of death have been released in the form of widespread efforts to legalize physician-assisted suicide in our country.
Using the passage from the Prophet Isaiah where the Lord promises a new heaven and a new earth, the Pope recently said that God dreams about us. "God thinks of each of us and loves each of us. He 'dreams' about us ... about how he will rejoice with us," the Pope said. "The Lord dreams of me! He thinks of me! I am in the Lord's mind and in his heart" -- each of us can say this! And according to Isaiah, the Pope concluded, God has many plans for us, "plans typical of one in love."
Yes, my dear young readers; God has dreams and plans for you! Each of you is on the Lord's mind and in his heart. And His plans are always plans of love, plans for your happiness. Our foundress, Saint Jeanne Jugan, grew up in a poor family during a difficult period of history. She didn't have much, but she knew that she was uniquely loved by God. When a young man proposed to her, she turned him down, saying, "God wants me for Himself." She knew that God had a definite plan for her.
I pray that God will give each of you the grace to say with conviction, "God wants me for Himself." Maybe that won't mean belonging exclusively to Him in the consecrated life, as in the case of Saint Jeanne Jugan; nevertheless, He wants you for a life-project that you and He will accomplish together -- for a work that He cannot complete without you.
Perhaps God is calling you to give yourself to a spouse with whom you will give birth to new children of God. Perhaps God's plan is for you to use your gifts and talents professionally for the building of the Culture of Life in a society that, while rich, is so spiritually poor. It has been said that millennials are the most pro-life generation. I witness this every year when I attend the Vigil and March for Life in Washington, D.C. I also witness youthful generosity in the many students who volunteer in our Homes, bringing joy to the elderly.
For many years, our pro-life efforts have been focused on the unborn, and this is definitely a noble and necessary cause. But, a new frontier has opened in the battle for life, a new struggle that needs attention, courage and zeal. In the wake of the highly-publicized suicide of a terminally ill young woman -- someone of the younger generation -- the floodgates of death have been released in the form of widespread efforts to legalize physician-assisted suicide in our country. As you discern God's plan for your life, I beg you to consider whether that plan might be taking you to this new battleground for life.
Whenever I meet medical and nursing students, I ask what area of practice most interests them. It is rare that anyone responds geriatrics or palliative medicine. Without diminishing the importance of any other specialty, I always beg them to consider the care of the elderly and terminally ill.
The population of our country is aging rapidly and there is a frightening shortage of geriatric-trained healthcare professionals. The same could be said of palliative care. Many who are already engaged in the battle against assisted suicide and euthanasia believe that the most convincing argument against the taking of one's own life -- or the life of another -- in response to suffering is to assure that effective palliative care and human and spiritual accompaniment are available to all. The lives of the most frail and vulnerable really are in our hands.
Pope Francis has spoken repeatedly about "cultural euthanasia" -- our society's tendency to abandon those who seem unproductive or burdensome, especially the very young, the disabled and the very old. God's plan for many will include married, family and/or professional life. But I believe that He is calling others to give themselves totally to Him, just as He called Saint Jeanne Jugan, by devoting a life of service to the elderly and dying, whose lives are increasingly at risk in a society that no longer recognizes their inviolable dignity. What could be more counter-cultural?
Being a spiritual mother to souls preparing for heaven is not always easy because it brings us face to face with the world of human suffering. But living each day on the threshold between this life and the new heavens envisioned by the Prophet Isaiah brings more happiness and joy than I could have ever imagined. Will you consider joining us as Little Sisters of the Poor?
Sister Constance Veit is communications director for the Little Sisters of the Poor.
Sister Constance Veit is director of communications for the Little Sisters of the Poor.