“Mondays with Mary” – The Blessed Virgin Mary in Lumen Gentium, Part III

Today we pick up right we where left off in Part II and finish our discussion on the Blessed Virgin Mary in Chapter 8 of the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium. For the final post on this short series, we will focus our attention on paragraphs 65-69.

# 65: Although Mary, the perfect creature in God’s creation is free of all sin, the faithful of the Church are not and must strive to reach holiness by overcoming the sin that entrap them. As the faithful seek to rid themselves of sin and strive for personal holiness, they should do so by living the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity, which are rooted in the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As the perfect example of all virtues, the faithful should desire to be like Mary in their daily lives. Mary, in her love for Jesus Christ, looks to bring the faithful in relationship with Him by being the everlasting Mother of all humanity – “The Virgin in our own lived an example of that maternal love, by which it behooves that all should be animated who cooperate in the apostolic mission of the Church for the regeneration of men.”

#66 and #67: Paragraph #66 says, “…Hence after the Synod of Ephesus the cult of the people of God toward Mary wonderfully increased in veneration and love, in invocation and imitation, according to her own prophetic words: ‘All generations shall call me blessed, because He that is mighty hath done great things to me.’ This cult, as it always existed, although it is altogether singular, differs essentially fro the cult of adoration which is offered to the Incarnate Word, as well as to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and it is most favorable of it.”

The cult of the Blessed Virgin in the Church that the Council Fathers profess is a theological term, which means devotion. The devotion we show to the Blessed Virgin is not the same we show to God. As Catholics, we don’t worship or adore Mary since worship and adoration are meant for God alone (latria), however, being that she is the great Mother of God, we give her honor and veneration in a higher degree (hyperdulia) than the saints who we give recognition and reverence (dulia).

To avoid against excess and defect, as the faithful we must refrain from false exaggeration towards the Blessed Virgin. By following the Magisterium, who has the final word on all matters of faith and morals, we will come to know authentic doctrine in regards to the many teachings on the Blessed Virgin Mary given to us throughout the centuries. The knowledge of authentic knowledge protects us from the extremes when it comes to the cult of the Blessed Virgin Mary. “…True devotion consists neither in sterile or transitory affection, nor in a certain vain credulity, but proceeds from true faith, by which we are led to know the excellence of the Mother of God…” (#67).

Theotokos - Orthodox

# 68: To provide hope for the faithful of the Church, the Mother of God, the Mother of Jesus, the great Blessed and Immaculate Virgin is assumed into Heaven and Crowned the Queen of Heaven and Earth. Mary is “a sign of sure hope and solace to the people of God during its sojourn on earth.” She shines as a beacon of hope until the Lord returns someday.

#69: To conclude Lumen Gentium and this chapter on Our Lady, the Council Fathers make an appeal for unity to the Eastern Orthodox (“separated brethren”), since they are our brothers and sisters in the same faith, and who give honor to the great Mother of God. Just as Mary aided in the early church with her prayers, we now pray that Mary, as the Mother of Unity, will unite us once again. In the end, mothers unite children far better than children unite children.

Knowing full well the impact that this document would make on the Church and the impact of Mary, Mother of the Church, Blessed Pope Paul VI solemnly declared on the closing day of the third session in Saint Mary Major,

“For the glory of the Blessed Virgin Mary and our own consolation, we declare most Holy Mary Mother of the Church, that is of the whole Christian people, both faithful and pastors, who call her a most loving Mother; and we decree that henceforth the whole Christian people should, by this most sweet name, give still greater honor to the Mother of God and address prayers to her.”

It’s been my hope that this series focusing on Our Lady from the Second Vatican Council’s document, Lumen Gentium, has taught you some things you did not know before. Please feel free to pass this part as well Parts I and II on to your family and friends.

The 50th Anniversary of Lumen Gentium

Today, November 21, 2014, we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium. Along with this major constitution, we also celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Orientalium Ecclesiarum (Decree on the Catholic Eastern Churches) and Unitatis Redintegratio (Decree on Ecumenism).

This document like all the documents from the Second Vatican Council, take their name from the first words of the document itself. The first two words – Lumen Gentium – the light of the nations is in reference to Jesus Christ who is the light to the nations. In the world, it is the Church that reflects the light of the Christ. Lumen Gentium is Christ and that is whom the Church must proclaim to all nations.

Like the document that accompanied Lumen Gentium (De Ecclesia – name during the council), Gaudium et Spes, or Schema 13 (name during the council) is a document with a more weighted subject matter – the permanent position of the Church. Where Gaudium et Spes provides the outward understanding of the Church – the Church is a mission, Lumen Gentium focuses on Holy Mother Church and the question, what does she say about herself? The role of Lumen Gentium is to answer the question by listening to the Holy Spirit in our times. This document focuses on the internal understanding of the Church. As a divine institution instituted by Jesus Christ himself, and given to St. Peter, the Church calls out to the world.

The document is composed of eight chapters: 1. The Mystery of the Church; 2. The People of God; 3. The Church is Hierarchical; 4. The Laity; 5. The Call to Holiness; 6. Religious; 7. The Pilgrim Church, and 8. Our Lady.

To conclude today’s blog post, I give you eight quotes for the eight chapters from the document. There are many great gems of theological insight in Lumen Gentium, but these are the ones that have recently stood out for me -

1. “Christ is the light of humanity; and it is, accordingly, the heart-felt desire of this sacred council, being gathered together in the Holy Spirit, that, by proclaiming his Gospel to every creature (cf. Mk. 16:15)…Since the Church, in Christ, is in the nature of sacrament – a sign and instrument, that is, of communion with God and of unity among all men – she here proposes, for the benefit of the faithful and of the whole world, to set forth, as clearly as possible, and in the tradition laid down by earlier Councils, her own nature and universal mission” (#1).

2. “The one mediator, Christ, established and ever sustains here on earth his holy Church, the community of faith, hope and charity, as a visible organization through which he communicates truth and grace to all men. But, the society structured with hierarchical organs and the mystical body of Christ, the visible society and the spiritual community, the earthly Church and the Church endowed with heavenly riches, are not to be thought of as two realities. On the contrary, they form one complex reality which comes together from a human and a divine element” (#8).

Lumen Gentium

3. “Though they differ essentially and not only in degree, the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial or hierarchical priesthood are none the less ordered one to another; each in its own proper way shares in the one priesthood of Christ. The ministerial priest, by the sacred power that he has, forms and rules the priestly people; in the person of Christ he effects the eucharistic sacrifice and offers it to God in the name of all the people. The faithful indeed, by virtue of their royal priesthood, participate in the offering of the Eucharist. They exercise that priesthood, too, by the reception of the sacraments, prayer and thanksgiving, the witness of a holy life, abnegation and active charity” (#10).

4. “From the marriage of Christians there comes the family in which new citizens of human society are born and, by the grace of the Holy Spirit in Baptism, those are made children of God so that the People of God may be perpetuated throughout the centuries. In what might be regarded as the domestic Church [italics mine], the parents, by word and example, are the first heralds of the faith with regard to their children. They must foster the vocation which is proper to each child, and this with special care if it be to religion” (#11).

5. “The order of bishops is the successor to the college of the apostles in their role as teachers and pastors, and in it the apostolic college is perpetuated. Together with their head, the Supreme Pontiff, and never apart from him, they have supreme and full authority over the universal Church; but this power cannot be exercised without the agreement of the Roman Pontiff…It is clear, however, that the office of binding and loosing which was given to St. Peter (Mt. 16:19), was also assigned to the college of the apostles united to its head (Mt. 18:18; 28:16-20)” (#22).

6. “They [the laity] live in the world, that is, they are engaged in each and every work and business of the earth and in the ordinary circumstances of social and family life which, as it were, constitute their very existence. There they are called by God that, being led by the spirit to the Gospel, they may contribute to the sanctification of the world, as fro within like leaven, by fulfilling their own particular duties” (#31).

7. “But if charity is to grow and fructify in the soul like a good seed, each of the faithful must willingly hear the word of God and carry out his will with deeds, with the help of his grace; he must frequently partake of the sacraments, chiefly the Eucharist, and take part in the liturgy; he must constantly apply himself to prayer, self-denial, active brotherly service and the practice of all virtues…the true disciple of Christ is marked by both love of God and of his neighbor” (#42).

8. “Christ lifted up from the earth, has drawn all men to himself (cf. Jn. 12:32). Rising from the dead (cf. Rom. 6:9) he sent his life-giving Spirit upon his disciples and through him set up his Body which is the Church as the universal sacrament of salvation. Sitting at the right hand of the Father he is continually active in the world in order to lead men to the Church and, through it, join them more closely to himself; and by nourishing them with his own Body and Blood, make them partakers of his glorious life” (#48).

For an explanation of Chapter 8 – Our Lady, please read “Mondays with Mary” – The Blessed Virgin Mary in Lumen Gentium, Part I, Part II, and Part III (next Monday).

“Mondays with Mary” – The Blessed Virgin Mary in Lumen Gentium, Part II

Today we pick up right we where left off in Part I and continue to discuss the Blessed Virgin Mary in Chapter 8 of the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium. For today’s post, we will focus our attention on paragraphs 58-64.

#58: Although the term, Co-Redemptrix or Co-Redemption are not used in this document, it does mean that the Council Fathers do not teach it – they do. However, because of the ecumenical nature of the Council, the Council Fathers chose not to use the term, but when you read this paragraph carefully, you clearly see Mary’s role as Co-Redemptrix is here.

Within this paragraph, we see three elements of Calvary. First, the Council Father’s say that Mary endured with her only begotten son the intensity of his suffering. She endured the pain of the crucifixion. Second, Mary associated herself with his sacrifice in her mother’s heart – one sacrifice from two hearts. Finally, lovingly she consented of the annulation, destruction of the victim being offered, of this victim born of her. She not only tolerated the crucifixion, but also consented to it – “enduring with her only begotten Son the intensity of his suffering, associated herself with his sacrifice in her mother’s heart, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this victim which was born of her.”

It was this paragraph that became the foundation for Pope St. John Paul II’s encyclical on Mary in the life of the Pilgrim Church, Redemptoris Mater. John Paul II says that Mary’s consent to this sacrifice is not only a “spiritual crucifixion” for her, but it’s also her second “fiat” – the second sorrowful fiat of Mary. As she consented at the Annunciation to the Mother of the Redeemer, so too here she consents during his ultimate sacrifice on the cross.

#59: Drawing from Pope Pius IX’s Papal Bull, Ineffabilis, and Pope Pius XII’s Apostolic Constitution, Munificentissiumus Deus, and his Encyclical, Ad coeli Reginam, the Council Father’s state,

“Finally the Immaculate Virgin preserved free from all stain of original sin, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, when her earthly life was over, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords, (cf. Apoc 19:16) and conquer of sin and death.”

Queen Mother

This paragraph speaks of how the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a clear sign that she was Immaculately Conceived in the womb of her mother, St. Anne. In the Kingdom of God, Mary’s role would then be the Queen Mother. She is Queen over all things – here on Earth and in Heaven.

#60: Drawing from St. Paul’s First Letter to Timothy, the Council Father’s explain a point that is often brought up against Mary as being a mediator – “for there is but one God and one mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a redemption for all (2:5-6).

So how does Mary’s mediation work in relation to St. Paul’s words? First, Mary’s mediation does not compete or obscure the mediation of Jesus Christ. Second, our Lady’s mediation is not an inner necessity. God does not have to use a woman, but He does since it is His will (Gen 3:15). Third, the mediation of Mary is dependent on the one mediation of Christ and fosters union with Christ and the faithful.

#61: Here we see the combination of Our Lady as Co-Redemption, which in turn leads to Mediation. This role is a supernatural role. She is a mother to us in the order of grace – she is Co-Redemptrix and then Mediatrix. It does not make any sense that she would distribute grace, unless she herself first acquired it. In her Immaculate Conception, she receives grace. In her role as Mediator, the term that is often used, and it’s the most ancient title for Mary is Advocate. St. Irenaeus of Lyons was the first to use this term.

#62: This paragraph continues to focus on the role of mediator. Mary’s saving office on earth is always subordinate to that of Christ. This saving office in Heaven, where she intercedes for the gifts of eternal life, is still given to her. Through her intercession, we receive protection and sanctification. Although some disagree that these titles should have been added to this paragraph, we see the titles of: Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix. In the original schema (the working document), the only term was Mediatrix of all Grace. Some at the Council objected to this term, however, the Council Fathers insisted that this term was included.

#63 & 64: These paragraphs are transitional paragraphs where we see the Blessed Virgin and Mother as the “type” of the Church. It was St. Ambrose of Milan who first defined Mary as a “type” of the Church. Everything that is true of Mary will apply to the Church in its own degree. The terms, virgin and mother, are two examples of the Church. As a mother, The Church gives birth to the sacraments. As a virgin, the Church is entirety and pure – she is pledged to her spouse, Jesus Christ. The Church is both Mother and Bride – “The Church indeed contemplating her hidden sanctity, imitating her charity and faithfully fulfilling the Father’s will, by receiving the word of God in faith becomes herself a mother” (#64).

Next week, we will conclude with Part III and examine paragraphs 65-69.

Quick Lessons from the Catechism: Faith and Reason

I might be beating dead horse with today’s blog post, but still want to make the point that Faith and Science (Reason) do not contradict each other. I know there is a crowd of people in the world today that try to prove the point that faith and reason do contradict, but if you study these two elements closely, you shall see that their arguments are clearly false. Proving this with the eloquence we are use to with his writings, in the beginning of his great encyclical on faith and reason (Fides et Ratio), Pope St. John Paul II said,

“Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves (cf. Ex 33:18; Ps 27:8-9; 63:2-3; Jn 14:8; 1 Jn 3:2).”

If you have never read the aforementioned encyclical, I would encourage you to do so, but I warn that many should approach it with great ease since it is steeped heavily in philosophy. In the encyclical, the Pope Saint focuses on the important relationship between faith and reason, the magisterium’s intervention in philosophical matters, the interaction between faith and reason, and current situations such as the distortion of evil and a list of certain “isms” that plague society today.

Faith and Science - DSMME

Now that we mentioned this, let us turn to read what the Catechism of the Catholic Church states the topic –

In paragraph 159, the subtopic of faith and science states: “Though faith is above reason, there can never be any real discrepancy between faith and reason. Since the same God who reveals mysteries and infuses faith has bestowed the light of reason on the human mind, God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever contradict truth.” “Consequently, methodical research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God. The humble and persevering investigator of the secrets of nature is being led, as it were, by the hand of God in spite of himself, for it is God, the conserver of all things, who made them what they are.”

Furthering this understanding, in paragraph 286, it states: human intelligence is surely already capable of finding a response to the question of origins. The existence of God the Creator can be known with certainty through his works, by the light of human reason, even if this knowledge is often obscured and disfigured by error. This is why faith comes to confirm and enlighten reason in the correct understanding of this truth: “By faith we understand that the world was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made out of things which do not appear.”

To continue to see that faith and science (reason) do not contradict each other, I would encourage you to read an article in the Catholic Answers Magazine titled – Fathers of Science. Here you will see that many of the great scientists of Western Civilization were Catholic priests and still others are counted among the Saints. This yet again proves that faith and reason are not opposites but “are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth.”

“Mondays with Mary” – The Blessed Virgin Mary in Lumen Gentium, Part I

I have been waiting 2 ½ years to write these next three blog posts featured in the “Mondays with Mary” series. Why have I been waiting three years? Well it’s because the next three “Mondays with Mary” will focus on Chapter VIII of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church from the Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium, which will celebrate it’s 50th Anniversary on November 21.

Chapter 8 is composed of five sections – a. Introduction (#52-54); b. The Function of the Blessed Virgin in the Plan of Salvation (#55-59); c. The Blessed Virgin and the Church (#60-65); d. The Cult of the Blessed Virgin in the Church (#66-67); e. Mary, Sign of True Hope and Comfort for the Pilgrim People of God (#68-69). For Part I, we will examine paragraphs 52-57.

#52: Drawing upon the richness found in St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians (4:4), this paragraph first focuses on how God sent his Son to adopt sons under the law. As the subordinate, the Blessed Virgin serves the adopted in this central role of salvation. It is in Galatians 4:4-6 that we see the summary of salvation. Second, the Father sends the Son, however it’s the Father who is the initiator of human redemption. Next, the Son is the Redeemer. The keystone and recapitulation of salvation lies with Him. Fourth, God send his son born of a woman. Mary is identified as the secondary mediator. As Mediatrix, she mediates the Mediator to the world. Fifth, the fruit of this mission are adopted sons, the entire human race. Lastly, the indication that we are adopted sons, in the presence of the Spirit, He calls us the to call out to Him – Abba, Father!

Furthermore, central to the Son’s mission is the woman, the “glorious ever Virgin Mary, Mother of God and of Our Lord Jesus Christ.” This first paragraph is defending the highest conceivable devotion of any creature.

#53: “Redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son and united to him by a close and indissoluble tie, she is endowed with the high office and dignity of the Mother of the Son of God…” In this paragraph the Council Fathers make reference to Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception, celebrated by the universal Church on December 8. The Immaculate Conception is the highest form of redemption. Through the words of the Angel Gabriel at the Annunciation, we know that Mary was conceived in an immaculate way. It is here she becomes the Mother of God and soon the Mother of All Humanity.

#54: “It does not, however, intend to give a complete doctrine on Mary, nor does it wish to decide those questions which the work of theologians has not yet fully clarified.” Overall, it seems that this statement (paragraph 54 in its entirety) drew battle lines among the Council Fathers. At the time of the Council, the primary discussions focused on the roles and titles of Co-Redemptrix and Mediatrix of All Graces. Some argued that the term, mediatrix, was not clear enough. Although these terms never appear in the document, the Council Fathers understand Mary to fulfill these roles. It was thought an ecumenical disaster would appear if Mediatrix of All Graces was contained in the documents since there were Protestant observers present.

Our Lady, Mary Mediatrix of All Graces

#55: Focusing on the references of Mary as a type in the Old Testament, the Council Fathers concentrate on three primary statements: first, that the woman in Genesis 3:15 (the Protoevangelium – first Gospel) is Mary. Second, the Virgin Birth of Emmanuel in Isaiah 7:14 also points to Mary. Finally, the woman in travail who gives birth and brings forth the child in Bethlehem in Micah 5:2-3 is again Mary. In all three references, there is no mention of a husband. They are virgin women.

The Council Fathers discuss the image of “Daughter Zion” in regards to Mary. This daughter is a faithful servant of Israel and faithful to the covenant even onto to death. “The exalted Daughter of Sion and the new plan of salvation is established, when the Son of God has taken human nature from her, that he might in the mysteries of his flesh free man from sin.” This quote also points to the understanding that Jesus’ DNA comes from Mary.

#56: As the previous paragraph focuses on the Old Testament, here we see the Council focusing on Mary in the New Testament. Drawing from the primary scripture verse, Luke 1:28, where the Angel Gabriel says, “And he came to her and said, ‘Hail, full of grace’, the Lord is with you!” the Council Fathers declare that it states Mary’s role in Salvation History. This event points to the past in her Immaculate Conception and points to the future where she will dispense graces as Mediatrix.

The Council Fathers draw upon Patristic Commentary and turn to St. Irenaeus and St. Jerome. This is the antithetical parallelism – “Death through Eve, life through Mary” (St. Jerome). Mary is the cause of salvation “for herself and the whole human race.” (St. Irenaeus). The whole mystery of the Immaculate Conception is the cause herself. Mary’s fiat, her “yes” allows for Jesus’ death, her first fruit is done in the Immaculate Conception, outside of time, and then the New Adam and New Eve work together to save humanity. She is the first to receive salvation.

#57: An important paragraph since it focuses on the bonding nature between Jesus and Mary. Here we see that the Son and Mother are united for the goal of Redemption. Referencing the Joyful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary, this paragraph also points to the traditions in the Church such as the Stations of the Cross. Because of her Immaculate Conception, Mary has infused knowledge that is supernatural, but still has tests of faith (three days Jesus is lost).

For Part II, next week’s blog post, we will examine paragraphs 58-64.

Quick Lessons from the Catechism: Where is the Liturgy Celebrated? (And The Lateran Basilica)

Instead of celebrating the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica is celebrated in the Latin lung of the Catholic Church today. Why does the dedication of one of the four major Roman Basilicas trump the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time? For a simple explanation of the reasoning behind this move in the liturgical calendar, please read Fr. Will Schimd’s letter to the parish of St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church found on page 3 of the bulletin.

Lateren Basilica

Since we commemorate the basilica’s dedication in Rome, I found this to be the perfect day to explain what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches about where the Liturgy is celebrated. Drawing from the section that deals with the Church’s Liturgy, the Catechism states briefly that…

Christ is the true temple of God, “the place where his glory dwells”; by the grace of God, Christians also become temples of the Holy Spirit, living stones out of which the Church is built (CCC 1197).

In its earthly state the Church needs places where the community can gather together. Our visible churches, holy places, are images of the holy city, the heavenly Jerusalem, toward which we are making our way on pilgrimage (CCC 1198).

It is in these churches that the Church celebrates public worship to the glory of the Holy Trinity, hears the word of God and sings his praises, lifts up her prayer, and offers the sacrifice of Christ sacramentally present in the midst of the assembly. These churches are also places of recollection and personal prayer (CCC 1199).

For a deeper and fuller understanding of where the Liturgy is celebrated, I encourage you to read paragraphs 1179-1186. In the future, this series will focus on the other paragraphs found in this section on the Liturgy.

Till then, I encourage you to check out the liturgical documents found on The Catholic Liturgical Library website. I would also encourage you to read the Second Vatican Council document on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, as well as The Spirit of the Liturgy by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI).

The Sacred Liturgy is one of the areas within the Church’s theology that many people have opinions on, however, most of these opinions are uninformed and invalid since many have never properly studied the Liturgy. We must read the documents that Church provides for us to have a complete understanding.

 

Quick Lessons from the Catechism: Euthanasia and Suicide

By now most people have either heard or read about the decision by Brittany Maynard to end her life on November 1. A decision that makes me shack my head every time I think about it. For me, the question is, what could possibly make someone choose to take his/her life in this way?

If it were I in this situation, I would want to suck every ounce of life, as if it was a ripe piece of fruit, before I left this vale of tears. Spending it with my family and friends in prayer and enjoying them would be the primary goal for me. That’s me, I love life and the struggles and the joys that life brings. Life is such a precious gift from God.

Committing suicide, and yes that’s what she did, would never cross my mind. Some might argue that you couldn’t know this for sure unless you were in the situation, but that’s an argument full of straw. I know who the Author of Life is and know that life is precious, even in the most tragic situations. It’s absurd to think that the dignity every human person possesses says it’s okay to take your own life. It’s a terrible product produced by our modern culture and needs to be eradicated.

So with this being said, what does the Catechism of the Catholic Church teach on Euthanasia and Suicide? In the section focusing on the Fifth Commandment – “You Shall Not Kill”, the Catechism focuses on the means of ending the sacredness of life.

In regards to Euthanasia…

CCC 2276: Those whose lives are diminished or weakened deserve special respect. Sick or handicapped persons should be helped to lead lives as normal as possible.

CCC 2277: Whatever its motives and means, direct euthanasia consists in putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick, or dying persons. It is morally unacceptable.

Thus an act or omission which, of itself or by intention, causes death in order to eliminate suffering constitutes a murder gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator. The error of judgment into which one can fall in good faith does not change the nature of this murderous act, which must always be forbidden and excluded.

CCC 2278: Discontinuing medical procedures that are burdensome, dangerous, extraordinary, or disproportionate to the expected outcome can be legitimate; it is the refusal of “over-zealous” treatment. Here one does not will to cause death; one’s inability to impede it is merely accepted. The decisions should be made by the patient if he is competent and able or, if not, by those legally entitled to act for the patient, whose reasonable will and legitimate interests must always be respected.

CCC 2279: Even if death is thought imminent, the ordinary care owed to a sick person cannot be legitimately interrupted. The use of painkillers to alleviate the sufferings of the dying, even at the risk of shortening their days, can be morally in conformity with human dignity if death is not willed as either an end or a means, but only foreseen and tolerated as inevitable Palliative care is a special form of disinterested charity. As such it should be encouraged.

In regards to Suicide…

CCC 2280: Everyone is responsible for his life before God who has given it to him. It is God who remains the sovereign Master of life. We are obliged to accept life gratefully and preserve it for his honor and the salvation of our souls. We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of.

CCC 2281: Suicide contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to preserve and perpetuate his life. It is gravely contrary to the just love of self. It likewise offends love of neighbor because it unjustly breaks the ties of solidarity with family, nation, and other human societies to which we continue to have obligations. Suicide is contrary to love for the living God.

CCC 2282: If suicide is committed with the intention of setting an example, especially to the young, it also takes on the gravity of scandal. Voluntary co-operation in suicide is contrary to the moral law.

Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.

CCC 2283: We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives.

In the end, as the above paragraph states, we must pray for Brittany. I would also encourage you to pray for others like her who believe in taking their life is a dignified way to die. Pray that our society reconciles itself with the understanding that all life – healthy, sick, and at death, is precious and comes from God the Father.