Last night was the ARCHES Theater Night, an annual event where the kids and their families get together to hear the students recite poems, sing songs, play music and perform skits. There was a most excellent selection of local talent, which I shall describe in a separate post.
The highlight of the evening was the announcement of the winner of the ARCHES Essay Contest. Meelyn and Aisling wrote their essays in January and mailed them in, identified only by their telephone numbers to insure fairness through anonymity. The topic of the essay was to be something along the lines of how we are strengthened and informed by Jesus through our Catholic faith, or an example of how one of the great saints of the Church has influenced the writer, or perhaps an apologetics-type essay discussing a common misconception of Catholic belief and the actual truth, or even another topic pre-approved by the essay contest committee.
Meelyn chose to write her essay on a right-to-life issue, one that has had an enormous influence on our family in the past year: She wrote about my mother-in-law, Verna, who died of a stroke in December 2006. My husband and I were thrilled beyond measure when Robin, the stalwart director of ARCHES, announced Meelyn as the Exceptional Essayist in the ARCHES 2008 Essay Contest through the merits of her paper, which she titled "The Benefit of Catholic Morality."
Mee won a $50 scholarship to apply to furthering her education in the language arts. I was so proud, I very nearly got to my feet, pumped the air with my fist and shouted, "YESSSSSSSSSSS!!!"
Here is Meelyn's essay:
The Benefit of Catholic Morality
In 1992, the bishops of the USCCB issued a directive which stated that malnutrition and dehydration of a patient in an end-of-life situation are against the beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church1. My family experienced an end-of-life issue involving this very thing last year when my grandmother had a stroke.
The neurologist told us that she was a born-again Christian, yet she wanted to take my grandmother off nutrition and hydration. My grandmother was going to die, the neurologist said, but it would take a long time, maybe as long as three weeks. Her death would come sooner if she were denied nutrition and hydration and her soul would be released. My grandfather didn't know what to do. Mom and Dad stood up for my comatose grandmother and said that it was against our religious beliefs to take away food and water to hurry a patient's death. My grandfather agreed with my parents.
My grandmother died a natural death early in the morning on December 23, 2006, in God's time, with nutrition and hydration. That is my sad-but-happy story of how we can always trust the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church to guide us through difficult decisions.
1 "Nutrition and Hydration: Moral and Pastoral Reflections" (Washington D.C., United States Catholic Conference, 1992.)
Aisling also wrote a very nice essay, although it didn't receive honorable mention. Maybe next year!
St. Dominic Savio's Greatest Example
Standing up to friends when they're doing something wrong can be very hard even though you know it's the right thing to do. I have learned a lot from the example of St. Dominic Savio because he stood up for what was right even when his friends would have thought he was uncool and stupid.
In September, I was with a group of friends and one of them was saying something bad. I didn't say anything to stop her. I wish I had followed the example of St. Dominic Savio when he wouldn't let his friends fight even though it made them mad at him1. I wish I had spoke up in front of the group of girls even though it would have made my friend mad at me. Afterward, it really bothered my conscience.
I know now that it's better to speak up than to not say anything and let a friend sin, even though it would make her mad at me. I will try to follow St. Dominic Savio's example from now on and stand up for what's right.
1Beebe, Catherine. Saint John Bosco and Saint Dominic Savio (Ignatius Press, San Francisco: 1992)
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