Saturday, March 26, 2005

Terri Schiavo: Why They Will Not Allow Communion

Reading this story from the AP, it struck me how far and ridiculous this whole situation has become.

In essence, the family being strict Roman Catholics and Terri being raised in that religion, they have asked that Terri be allowed to receive the holy communion.

Now, if you're not religious or find religion to be over used, abused or just plain hum bug, you might wonder what all the hoopla is about. Who care's if she does not have communion?

I ask this question, who care's if she does? Why can't she? It's not about what we want, it is about what her beliefs are and it is apparent to me that she was Catholic and part of that Catholicism is to take holy communion and receive the last rights before passing as a last act of contrition and acceptance in joining God.

So, who care's if she has it? Why not?

Well, it turns out that it is a complicated matter.

First, communion is performed by placing a miniscule piecee of bread and a drop of wine on the tongue. In order for communion to be taken, the person receiving it would have to swallow the offerings.

Therein lies the rub. If Terri takes communion and swallows the offering, swallowing is a CONSCIOUS act. The whole reason that Terri has had a feeding tube instead of oral nutrition is that the physicians that oversee her care and Michael Schiavo and the courts have all contended that Terri is in a persistent vegetative state and that her only reactions, movements, responses, are involuntary and unconscious. Medically, it is commonly accepted that one can breath, have heart functions, blink, groan, moan, and even sneeze unconsciously as these are controlled by impulses of the unconscious mind.

However, swallowing requires the control of the mouth, tongue and throat muscles to insure that the food is swallowed and the receiver does not choke.

So, if Terri could receive communion, she would be CONSCIOUSLY responding and it would overturn any claims that she is PVS (persistent vegetative state).

Under no circumstances will Michael Schiavo, the physician's he's hired, his attorney or the courts allow this to occur.

Secondly, it is quite possible that a small amount of food (miniscule, a pinch) and a drop of wine would be no more than the amount of saliva that she has routinely and regularly swallowed on her own. In which case, it might not represent a conscious act of swallowing if she did manage to take the communion.

However, it is most likely that, having taken the communion and not choked on it, Terri's parent's, attornies and other physicians will claim that it is proof that Terri IS CONSCIOUS and attempt to use it as an appeal against the claims otherwise and demand that she be fed orally or have the tube re-inserted until rehabilitation allows her to do so.

In the end, Terri will most likely not receive communion.

"So what?" some of you might be saying.

Well, I hope when it's your time, whatever you believe in, you are able to receive and experience whatever it is that you feel assists you on your spiritual journey and gives you comfort.

Honestly, communion is not about Terri's parents or Michael Schiavo. In the end, as surely this is, this is about Terri, her beliefs and what she would have to speed her along on her journey to wherever she believed in.

Of course, you can argue that she doesn't know any better because she is PVS.

We're talking about the spirit here, not the physical being. If you believe in it, it is a strong entity in your life and matters as much, if not more, than your physical being.

Of course, nobody is asking you to believe. It's not about you. It's about Terri.

So why don't they give her that much at least?

Yes, yes, I know. The "rightwing, Christian Nut-Job" argument.

Why is it that those that have the least hope are always the ones trying to tear down those that have some?

I digress. This isn't about you or your beliefs. This is about Theresa Marie Schindler Schiavo and hers.

After all this, I can't believe anyone would insist on denying her this one thing.

How little and mean spirited we have become in a fight that is over for all intents and purposes. We cannot even spare her this one merciful last act.

Let us hope that our own last moments are more peaceful and that we are allowed our own little idiosyncracies when we pass.

In the meantime, I'll say a little prayer for Terri tonight and those involved on each side. I'm thinking that they all are in needed of a little spiritual intervention about now.

I might even pray for you.

Wouldn't that be a kick in the pants?


riceburner147 said...

Kat: if it were up to me, i would certainly allow/encourage the communion (and i am NOT catholic, but its not about me) What could it hurt, besides the legal stuff. I must admit, i have tuned out on the whole thing, it is unseemly and painful and the only people that should be involved is the family etc. I have NO desire to weigh in on what should be done, how would i know. The media twists things (even when they dont mean to). How painful this must be for the parents and the rest of the family. All i can do is, like you (truly) pray for wisdom for those involved)

Cigarette Smoking Man from the X-Files said...

Wisdom? The systems that rule this land are well beyond even considering wisdom. They can't even get beyond the evil and fallacy that has them in thrall.

This is now a land that carts off 12 year-olds in handcuffs for trying to take a dying innocent woman A GLASS OF WATER.

And now add to that, a land that also won't allow that innocent dying woman (being executed in a way that it isn't legal to do to a serial pedophile rape-murderer), a single little fricken communion wafer.

How exactly is this nation NOT going straight to hell?

Anonymous said...

The likelihood is that she would choke, especially on a full wafer, and possibly die of it.

The same applies to glasses of water and drowning.

Admittedly, it would be a quicker death but I don't suspect that you really do want that result.

Anonymous said...

I certainly do not claim that I know what should be done.
As a parent I grieve for these parents and also for Terri.
I think this is a family matter and should be left there.
I do pray that this family could be united and work together.
The one thing that really bothers me and I pray is not true is that Michael has dedided to make sure this is done at this point due to his now second family and wanting to marry,
If in this situation I were put I'm sure that I would have many questions for my son in law.
God be with them all