In August, the Catholic Bishops gave a Pro-Life award to Dr. Joanne Angelo. She has been a leading advocate for the elderly in end-of-life care. I found a good little article, written back in 1999, by Dr. Angelo on Hospice Care called Transforming a Culture of Death Into a Civilization of Love. She explains the connection between the hospice movement and the tradition of hospitality in Catholic monastaries: "The hospice concept dates back to medieval times when religious orders offered hospitality to travelers and cared for them if they were ill or dying. The modern hospice movement became well known through the work of Dame Cicely Saunders, who founded St. Christopher's Hospice in London in 1967." I am thankful for this article because it presents the Hospice movement in its role of bringing back to end-of-life care a more communal and human dimension. Welcoming the dying elderly into our lives is a crucial aspect to building a culture rooted in the virtues, such as humility and gratitude. Caregivers, family, and society as a whole, benefit greatly from efforts to care for the elderly up to the time of natural death in a family centered, hospitable and loving setting. Read her whole article:
Dr. Joanne Angelo, Embracing Our Dying (EmbracingOurDying.com), 1999.
Here's a quote from her article:
Hospice work has helped me to understand something of Pope John Paul II's explanation of the Christian meaning of human suffering: "Suffering is present in the world in order to release love, in order to give birth to works of love toward neighbor, in order to transform the whole of human civilization into a 'civilization of love." The compassionate care of dying persons until the last moment of natural life has an importance that extends far beyond the good of the individual and the family served. In the words of the Holy Father to Catholic health care leaders in Phoenix, "Your apostolate penetrates and transforms the very fabric of American society... As you alleviate suffering and seek to heal, you also bear witness to the Christian view of suffering and to the meaning of life and death as taught by your Christian faith." Hospice care is an example par excellence of a work of love toward neighbor which can help to transform our culture of violence and death into a civilization of love.