March 31, 2006
Terri Schiavo: Finding the AnswersTopics: Bobby Schindler, Remembering Terri
This the final post in a four part series containing the full-text of a speech given by Bobby Schindler to an audience in Phoenix, AZ sponsored by Arizona Right to Life. These details and much more can be read by simply ordering a copy A Life that Matters.
I get asked all the time what has sustained you and our family in all this? Has your faith helped you or been affected with your sisters situation.?
Personally, it wasn't until the experience of my sister's situation and what seemed like an endless roller coaster ride of emotions that I realized --- for most of my adult life -- how easily my faith could be shaken, failing to trust in God. Throughout different times in my life my faith was easily tested. As long as things were okay in my life, my relationship with God was okay, but in the time of testing, just as it says in the parable of the Sower, my faith essentially, "fell away".
And when my sister's trial began in January 2000, my relationship and faith in God truly was tested, and there is no doubt that my faith was tested and I didn't respond very well at all. It all began when something happened that no one in family would have ever expected, a Catholic priest testified on behalf on Michael Schiavo stating that the Catholic Church was essentially 'okay' with removing my sister's feeding tube so that she would starve to death.
As my family listened to this priest testify -- it astounded me that he never went to visit Terri nor did he speak to anyone in my family about my sister. I wondered if the priest even knew that Terri was a practicing Catholic who was an advocate for life, and would be completely against starving a human being to death.
Sadly, in preparation for the trial the priest spoke only to Michael Schiavo's attorney, and to Michael Schiavo, who as I mentioned, was openly engaged to another woman at the same time. I guess the priest did not have a problem with this.
Consequently, Judge Greer ruled in Michael Schiavo's favor to allow Terri's feeding tube to be removed. Interestingly enough, the judge made a point to specify in his ruling how candid he thought the priest was with his testimony.
How can this be? How can God allow this to happen? These questions were obsessively going through my head. I began focusing and on all the evil that began to surface in my sister's case and the anger began to consume me.
If that wasn't enough, and when things didn't seem they could get much worse for my faith, my family scheduled a meeting with Bishop Robert Lynch who is the Bishop of the diocese where Terri was living. We met with the Bishop, asking for and expecting to have his help to --- not only condemn the ruling to starve my sister to death that just issued by the judge, but to correct the testimony of the priest which was contrary to Church teaching.
After all, what could possibly be more soul-less or cowardly than harming people who cannot defend themselves? What could possibly be crueler than causing someone to endure a prolonged and painful death simply because as a society we don't want to deal with or pay for people that many think have no human value or quality of life?
Much to the frustration of my family, the meeting proved to be of no help. In fact, during the five year ordeal, Terri's Bishop Lynch did very little to assist my sister despite the clear contradiction of the Church's teaching and the pleas of countless Catholic's throughout the world.
Looking back, I can't help but believe that if Bishop Lynch would have steadfastly denounced what was happening to Terri, which was the practice of involuntary euthanasia, there would have been such an enormous outcry of support from the parishioners in Terri's diocese, and Catholics from all over the world, that that m sister could very well be alive today.
After my family's meeting with Bishop Lynch, I can say that it was a point in my life that whatever relationship I did have with God was all but gone.
I would not accept any reason or justification why God was allowing this to happen. Nothing made sense to me, and my thought process could not find any logic why God was allowing my sister to suffer like this or why my parents had to helplessly watch so much cruelty engulf my sister. I became furious with all the people and all the leaders that I felt were in a position to help and for whatever reason weren't doing anything.
I became so blinded by this anger that I was trapped and didn't even know it, because I was blaming God for all my troubles, and it was only God that could save me.
Fortunately for me I was blessed and began confiding in some of my close friends about the problems I was having. They would tell me that this is exactly how the devil works, tempting me to blame God for of my own anger, and that the devil couldn't be happier with the way I was handling the situation. They were incessant, telling me that I needed to get back to the Church.
At a point in my life when I was experiencing the greatest separation from my Savior, God was doing everything in His power to reach out to me, which is what God always does. But for whatever reason, we fail to recognize it.
My friends wouldn't let up and I remember them telling me that they were praying for me and my family just as much as they were praying for Terri. I also remember my close friend in Tampa, Kathy Lambert, who would go almost every week with me to visit Terri, and the three of us, Terri, Kathy and me, would pray together. But what made these visits so special it how Kathy would ask Terri to pray for me
It was a pivotal time in my life, because I really felt that I wanted to make my way back to Christ, but was having a difficult time praying or the motivation to go back to Church to receive the Eucharist.
I think it was sometime in late 2003 when I was channel surfing and I stopped for a moment to watch an interview on EWTN. I don't know why I didn't keep turning the channel but I think it was because I was interested to see why a Hollywood actor was being interviewed on EWTN. The interview was with Mr. Caviezel regarding the upcoming movie by Mel Gibson, The Passion of The Christ. Mr. Caviezel was being interviewed because he was playing the role of Jesus Christ.
I can't describe the impression this interview made on me to witness such unwavering faith, and how inspiring it was listening to Mr. Caviezel speak so eloquently about his devotion to Christ, and in particularly, his reverence for Mary the Mother of Jesus.
I remember saying to myself that I wish I had faith like that, and how much I was looking forward to seeing the movie.
Just before Easter 2004, I went by myself to see The Passion of The Christ and like many people that watched this movie, wept. I went three times, once with my entire family. On Good Friday, I went back to Church for the first time in many, many years and just sat there and prayed, asking for his forgiveness. My first time back to mass, receiving the Eucharist, was on that Easter Sunday.
My family and I continue to mourn the loss of my sister I realize that I am still, at times, experiencing difficulty's wrestling with what was happened to her, but I am trying my hardest to pray and understand why my sister had to suffer so much and die in such a horrible way.
It helps me tremendously to see that, despite all my sister's suffering, how much she has touched people all over the world AND reading some of the tens of thousands of letters my family has received since Terri's death. And I can't describe the feeling when my family is greeted by people everywhere we go who take the time to tell us that Terri has changed their lives and that Terri and my family have been AND remain in their constant prays.
My family will be forever indebted to my sister, Terri, as we witnessed her strength and her incredible will to live. We watched how hard she fought to show the world the sacredness of life. This is why my family will continue to fight --- as my sister did --- to expose what a horrible thing it was that happened to her and do what we can to combat this culture of death attitude permeating our country.
It is getting so bad that Michael Schiavo's Attorney had the nerve to describe my sister's starvation death as a "pleasant" way to die and my family sat there astonished as he said that my sister looked beautiful as she laid there starving and dehydrating to death.
Fortunately, there is hope. With the help of growing number of Christian media, as well as some conservative talk shows, we are beginning to expose the dishonesty of these death proponents (who have been operating relatively unnoticed for a long time). For the first time they are showing the public what really happened to my sister and how insidious the pro-euthanasia activists truly are. Regardless of the battle we have ahead, we no other choice but to keep fighting and my family intends to do exactly that.
You know I just want to talk about the media again for a moment and about the people in Washington DC.
Subsequent to my sister's death, the secular media launched an attack, which is ongoing incidentally; against anyone that represents a threat to their euthanasia or pro-death agenda.
I could give countless more examples of what I am referring to, but it has really troubled me the way the media vilified the good people in Congress, particularly Majority Leader Tom Delay, who simply wanted to provide Terri the same Federal rights that are provided for murders on death row. They, as well as many others, including Governor Bush, have been relentlessly attacked; all because they recognized that what was happening to Terri was wrong and wanted to something to help.
Fortunately, as I alluded to earlier, Pope John II in March 2004 spoke out on this specific issue, stating in the clearest of terms that the administration of food and water, even if by artificial means, can never be considered "a medical act" and should be considered, in principle, ordinary and proportionate, and as such morally obligatory. And continued by saying that even using the word vegetative when applying to a human being is offensive.I would like to take a moment and speak about Pope John II and my sister Terri. IF you were a witness to my sister's two week experience without food and water, you also saw the suffering of the Holy Father. I do not believe that the parallels between Terri's death and the Holy Father were not a coincidence. We witnessed Terri at the height of her passion, suffering from the denial of food and water, the most basic human necessity and how a feeding tube was given to the Holy Father without question the day Terri died. And you could imagine our family reaction when we learned that the Pope was told about Terri's death.
It was as if God was reminding the world that every human life has equal worth in His eyes and that we are wrong to begin dictating who is worthy of being fed and who is not and how the Holy Father was united with Terri in her suffering.
Finally I want to talk about my parents.
I want to believe that any parent would be fighting just as hard for their child. My parents have been taken a pretty good beating from certain media outlets these past five years, being called everything from religious zealots to parents that are selfish and just can't let go. Parents that are selfish always was my favorite. Imagine parents that should be getting ready to enjoy retirement but instead would rather dedicate the rest of their lives to care for their child that needs the attention of a baby. I have to think that is an act to show just how selfless and dignified my beautiful parents are.
I thank God everyday that my parents never gave up on Terri and thought because what my parents did showed the world what is meant to love someone unconditionally.
Simply said, Michael Schiavo wanted to kill Terri's because of disability. My Mom and Dad wanted to love Terri because of her disability.May your strength give us strength May your faith give us faith May your hope give us hope May your love give us love
Related: The Schindlers describe in much greater detail the events leading to Terri's death in A Life that Matters.
Posted by tim at March 31, 2006 12:01 AM
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