By Laura Kizior
The culture of death offers no hope for a future. It offers only darkness, desolation, and a finite reality. Suffering is seen as pointless, cruel, and without value. It is only when we recognize God’s gift of eternal life as the world beyond the threshold of death that we are able to bear our sufferings and let them mold us into the saints and heroes that God created us to be.
The life of Blessed Chiara Badano is a beautiful example of a person who lived out her suffering with great joy and hope for the heaven that awaited her. As a young girl, Chiara encountered the Focolare Movement, a Catholic ministry founded by Chiara Lubich which focuses on Christian unity and showing Christ’s love to others. Young Chiara embraced the spirituality of the Focolare Movement, and was often seen counseling her friends, listening to their troubles, and showing them the love of Jesus.
When she was only 17 years old, Chiara was diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma, an extremely painful and debilitating bone cancer. After hearing the news of her illness, Chiara spent twenty-five minutes in prayer. During that time, she gave her “yes” to Jesus to accept His will. From that moment on, Chiara did not complain, but was only joyful and encouraging to the people around her.
Chiara embraced her sickness, knowing that it was only through God’s will that she was suffering. She used her remaining time on earth well, encouraging those around her, especially her friends in the Focolare Movement. She said, “I would like to pass on the torch as at the Olympics, because we only have one life and it’s worth living it well.”
As she reached her final days, Chiara made the decision to refuse some of her pain medication, saying, “There’s only one thing I can do now: to offer my suffering to Jesus because I want to share as much as possible in his suffering on the cross.” Chiara saw her pain as a way to unite herself to Christ’s suffering on the cross, her “bridegroom” to whom she had pledged her final days. Chiara asked to be buried in a wedding gown because she was going to heaven to be with Jesus, her bridegroom.
Proponents of euthanasia would argue that Chiara Luce should have been given the choice of euthanasia in order to save herself from her suffering. But death is not compassionate care. Chiara was able to see the value in her suffering by uniting herself to Christ on the cross.
Suffering can be extremely difficult, but through the grace of God we can overcome our trials and use our pain to bring ourselves closer to Jesus. Blessed Chiara’s story of courageous suffering gives us hope in our daily trials. We must share stories like hers with our children and students to help them have a better understanding of suffering and how we are each supposed to carry our crosses.
Laura Kizior is a content developer for American Life League’s Culture of Life Studies Program, which stresses the culture of life as an integral part of every academic discipline. CLSP is dedicated to helping students become effective communicators of the pro-life message. Sign up for our e-mail newsletter to see how we can help you foster a culture of life at home and in school. To learn more about how to talk to high school students about euthanasia, visit our website to see our latest one-class study entitled Euthanasia: An Introduction.