The Anchoress Drops Her Veil to Discuss the Dignity of Life

For years now spiritual author The Anchoress has written beautiful words on faith, and life and family- sharing her powerful words behind a veil of anonymity. Her writings have covered everything from December vespers, to the travels of Pope Benedict, to George W. Bush dancing with free people. But, after several years of anonymous blogging The Anchoress for some reason decided to drop her veil of anonymity recently.

Inside Catholic published a wonderful article by Elizabeth Scalia (pictured) on the dignity of life. Here is a piece from that essay:

The Way of Sorrows is the Way of the Cross. It is a process of being open to, and acknowledging, and fully living through those times in our lives when we know humiliation, or hardship, or failing, or shared suffering. One of the stops on the Way of the Cross is entitled “Jesus Meets His Mother,” and we have seen that powerful image played out over and over in these past weeks.

A few days ago, I watched as Mom fed her dying son his supper, patiently holding small spoonful after small spoonful to his lips, encouraging him to swallow and take a little more, offering him a drink, dabbing at his lips. Occasionally, watching him do the hard work of simply eating, she would shake her head sadly and offer him another bite.

I watched this unshrinking woman — a woman who, ten years ago, would have told you that she could not possibly endure such a reality — feed her son a pureed meal from his dish, while she nourished him — and the rest of us present — in a completely different way, with her unconditional love. Forty years ago, she had fed her son as she feeds him now; back then it was a game, now it is a heavy sadness. But both meals had been flavored by the constancy of her love.

This is no image in pastels. Nothing this heroic can be portrayed in pinks and yellows and blues. Only the starkest of colors, boldly cast, can be used to relate what we are seeing. Recently, we stepped outside — once again — to allow the nurse to turn her patient in his bed. We know she used the utmost care and delicacy in handling our brother, and yet we could see, upon re-entering his room, how exhausting it had been for him. I stood at the foot of the bed and saw his face as Mom drew near. Too exhausted for words, he reached for her and she took his hand. His eyes saw only his mother, and they said, “Mommy… oh, my Mommy,” and her eyes said the rest: “Son… oh, my son.”

But this is too sad, it is. Life is so very sad and so very beautiful. Some will scoff: “Beauty? What beauty? What kind of sick mind can find beauty in this pietà? It would be more beautiful to help your brother to end his suffering. Real love has nothing in common with pain. What is to be gained from all of this beside some medieval Catholic satisfaction in suffering?”

I can only answer that question with a question: Do you think that giving my lionhearted brother a “compassionate” needle would truly lessen our suffering, or his? By cutting short the process, do we step off the Via Dolorosa and avoid it all, or do we merely thwart a plan for our own lives? Should we steal from our brother the opportunity for him to reach out a hand and have it immediately grasped, to have everything about his existence affirmed, over and over?

Should we steal from ourselves the opportunity to love?

What has been gained here? Brothers and sisters and cousins and friends who had been supremely caught up in the seemingly critical issues of their own lives have brought those “important” issues to a screeching halt, and they have come together to help our brother, and each other, through these last months. We have all gained the understanding that our love for one another is not as buried as we had perhaps thought. We know, now, that no family or friends will be left behind. We know that if any of us become ill, our ordeal will not be a lonely one; we all understand that we have enormous value to each other. And we know that if life becomes difficult, no one is going to be “put down” as a matter of expediency. These days, that is a tremendous message.

There is much more at Inside Catholic.

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