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Monsignor Yennock's Homily July 9, 2017 - Herman the Cripple

Jul 12, 2017

HERMAN THE CRIPPLE II

FOURTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

JULY 9, 2017

BY NOW YOU HAVE ALL HEARD OF THE CASE OF CHARLIE GARD A BABY BORN IN THE UNITED KINGDOM. CHARLIE WAS BORN WITH A SERIOUS GENETIC DISEASE. HE HAS BEEN IN THE HOSPITAL SINCE BIRTH ALMOST A YEAR AGO.

NOW DOCTORS AND THE GOVERNMENT WON’T LET THE BABY LEAVE THE HOSPITAL. THEY WANT TO TRANSFER HIM TO END-OF-LIFE –CARE AND LET HIM DIE WITHOUT FURTHER TREATMENT.

THE DOCTORS AND THE GOVERNMENT HAVE REFUSED TO ALLOW CHARLIE’S PARENTS TO TAKE HIM OUT OF THE COUNTRY FOR FURTHER TREATMENT.

THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES AND POPE FRANCIS HAVE OFFERED CLINICS IN EITHER COUNTRY THAT ARE WILLING TO GIVE HIM FURTHER TREATMENT. OVER A MILLION DOLLARS HAS BEEN DONATED TO PAY FOR HIS CARE.

THE HOSPITAL AND THE GOVERNMENT STILL REFUSE TO LET HIM LEAVE.

THE JUDGES CONCLUDED THAT THE EXPERIMENTAL TREATMENT WOULD BE "FUTILE," THEY ARE FOLLOWING A DANGEROUS THEORY CALLED FUTILE CARE THEORY THAT AUTHORIZES DOCTORS TO REFUSE OR WITHDRAW WANTED LIFE-SUSTAINING MEDICAL TREATMENT OVER THE OBJECTIONS OF FAMILY AND PATIENTS WHEN THE DOCTORS AND/OR A BIOETHICS COMMITTEE BELIEVE THAT THE PATIENT’S QUALITY OF LIFE MAKES THAT LIFE NOT WORTH LIVING OR NOT WORTH THE RESOURCES REQUIRED TO SUSTAIN IT.

SHOULD THE DISABLED, THE DEFORMED, THE DEFECTIVE, THE INCUREABLY SICK BE DISPOSED OF, BEFORE THEIR TIME, BECAUSE THEY ARE THOUGHT TO BE A BURDEN ON SOCIETY? SHOULD THE COST OF HEALTH CARE BE A HIGHER PRIORITY THAN THE VALUE OF HUMAN LIFE?

THIS IS AN ISSUE OF PARENTS’ RIGHTS AND THE RIGHT TO LIFE OF EVERY PERSON FROM CONCEPTION TO NATURAL DEATH. EUTHANASIA IS NOT A MORAL OPTION.

WHAT DO PARENTS DO WHEN THEY BRING INTO THE WORLD, A CHILD THAT SOME WOULD CALL A DEFECTIVE CHILD? THE ANCIENT PAGANS WOULD HAVE EXPOSED HIM, AT BIRTH, TO PERISH. MODERN PAGANS MIGHT CHOOSE ABORTION. IF A CHILD WERE ONE OF FIFTEEN CHILDREN THEY MIGHT SAY THAT HE NEVER SHOULD HAVE BEEN BORN.

I WANT TO TELL YOU A STORY OF A DEFECTIVE CHILD WHO WAS ONE OF FIFTEEN CHILDREN.

THIS IS THE STORY OF AN EXTRAORDINARY LITTLE MAN WHO WAS BORN IN THE YEAR 1013. SOME HISTORIANS WRONGLY CALL THAT ERA THE DARK AGES. HOWEVER THEY KNEW ENOUGH IN THE DARK AGES TO VALUE HUMAN LIFE.

THIS IS THE STORY OF BLESSED HERMANN THE CRIPLLE OR IN LATIN HERMANUS CONTRACTUS. HE WAS CALLED CONTRACTUS BECAUSE HE WAS SO DEFORMED THAT HE COULD NOT WALK OR STAND OR LIE DOWN COMFORTABLY. HE COULD BARELY SIT ON THE SPECIAL CHAIR THAT THEY MADE FOR HIM.  IT IS TRUE TO SAY THAT HE NEVER HAD A COMFORTABLE DAY IN HIS WHOLE LIFE. 

HE WAS BORN WITH CEREBRAL PALSY AND SPINA BIFIDA. HIS FINGERS WERE ALL BUT TOO WEAK AND KNOTTED FOR HIM TO WRITE. EVEN HIS MOUTH AND PALATE WERE DEFORMED AND HE COULD HARDLY BE UNDERSTOOD WHEN HE SPOKE. 

I AM TELLING YOU THE DETAILS OF HIS HORRIBLY TWISTED BODY ONLY TO CONTRAST THE UGLINESS OF THE BODY WITH THE BEAUTIFUL, BRILLIANT MIND THAT WAS IN THAT BODY.

HIS FATHER WHO LIVED IN SOUTHERN GERMANY WAS THE COUNT OF ALTSHAUSEN. HIS MOTHER’S NAME WAS HILTRUD. HERMANN BELONGED TO A FAMILY THAT PRODUCED NOBLEMEN, CRUSADERS, AND GREAT PRELATES. YET HISTORY DOES NOT REMEMBER ONE OF THOSE “NORMAL” PEOPLE.

HOWEVER, HISTORY DOES REMEMBER HERMANN THE CRIPPLE. WHEN THIS LITTLE FELLOW WHO WAS BORN MOST HORRIBLY DEFORMED, HIS PARENTS PRAYED A LOT; CARED FOR HIM UNTIL HE WAS SEVEN YEARS OLD AND SENT HIM TO A BENEDICTINE MONASTERY.

LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT THAT MONASTERY BECAUSE IT IS RELEVANT TO OUR STORY.

IT WAS LOCATED ON THE BEAUTIFUL ISLAND OF REICHENAU ON LAKE CONSTANCE IN SWITZERLAND. THIS MONASTERY EXISTED TWO HUNDRED YEARS BEFORE CHARLEMAGNE.

IT WAS SO LOCATED THAT ITALIAN AND GREEK, IRISH AND ICELANDIC TRAVELLERS STOPPED THERE. IT SHELTERED FAMOUS SCHOLARS; IT HAD ITS SCHOOL OF PAINTING--TENTH AND ELEVENTH CENTURY PAINTINGS MADE BY MONKS WHO PAINTED FROM THE HEART.

THIS IS THE ATMOSPHERE WHERE THE YOUNG HERMANN GREW UP FROM THE AGE OF SEVEN AND REMAINED UNTIL HIS DEATH AT THE AGE OF 40 YEARS.

HERE IN THIS HOTBEAD OF LEARNING, CULTURE AND FAITH THIS LITTLE COURAGEOUS FELLOW, NEVER COMFORTABLE IN A CHAIR, OR FLAT IN BED LEARNT MATHEMATICS, GREEK, LATIN, ARABIC, ASTRONOMY AND MUSIC.

HE WROTE A WHOLE TREATISE ON ASTROLABES, INSTRUMENTS THAT WERE USED IN ASTRONOMY. HERE IS WHAT HE SAID IN THE PREFACE OF HIS BOOK: “HERMANN THE LEAST OF CHRIST’S POOR ONES AND OF AMATEUR PHILOSOPHERS, HERMANN SLOWER THAN ANY DONKEY, YES, THAN ANY SNAIL HAS BEEN PERSUADED BY THE PRAYERS OF NUMBERS OF MY FRIENDS TO WRITE THIS SCIENTIFIC TREATISE”—A TREATISE ON ASTROLABES.

BELIEVE IT OR NOT WITH THOSE TWISTED FINGERS HE ACTUALLY MADE ASTROLABES AND CLOCKS AND MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS. HE WAS NEVER IDLE. HE WAS NEVER CONQUERED.

AS FOR MUSIC, HE SAID THAT A COMPETENT MUSICIAN OUGHT TO BE ABLE TO COMPOSE A REASONABLE TUNE, OR ANYWAY TO JUDGE IT, AND FINALLY TO SING IT. THIS JOLLY LITTLE CRIPPLE IS THE COMPOSER OF ALMA REDEMPTORIS MATER, SALVE REGINA AND OTHER HYMNS.

TO UNDERSTAND THE DEPTH AND BREADTH OF HIS MENTAL POWERS WE HAVE TO SEE HIM MOVE FROM MUSIC AND SCIENCE TO WORLD HISTORY. HE ACTUALLY WROTE A CREDIBLY ACCURATE ACCOUNT OF HISTORY FROM THE TIME OF JESUS TO HIS OWN ELEVENTH CENTURY.

HERE YOU HAVE A CRIPPLED MONK IN HIS CELL; ALERT EYES WIDE OPEN TO THE OUTSIDE WORLD—NEVER CYNICAL, NEVER CRUEL, GIVING US A COMPLETE PERSPECTIVE OF THE CURRENTS OF LIFE IN EUROPE.

IN HIS LATIN BIOGRAPHY HE IS DESCRIBED AS PLEASANT, FRIENDLY, AND EASY TO TALK TO; ALWAYS LAUGHING, NEVER CRITICISING; EAGERLY CHEERFUL; TRYING AS HARD AS POSSIBLE TO BE THOROUGHLY DECENT.

THE RESULT WAS THAT EVERYBODY LOVED HIM.

I WAS MOVED BY READING THE LIFE OF LITTLE HERMANN. BUT I WAS MORE MOVED BY READING AN ACCOUNT OF HIS DEATH.

THE MONK BERTHOLD, HIS FRIEND AND HISTORIAN, GIVES US AN ACCOUNT OF WHAT IT WAS LIKE TO BE AT THE DEATHBED OF BLESSED HERMANN.

BERTHOLD WROTE: “WHEN AT LAST, THE LOVING KINDLINESS OF GOD WAS DEIGNING TO FREE HIS HOLY SOUL FROM THE TEDIOUS PRISON OF THIS WORLD, HE WAS ATTACKED BY PLEURSY, AND FOR TEN DAYS WAS ALMOST ALL THE TIME IN AGONY.

“AT LAST, ONE DAY, VERY EARLY IN THE MORNING, AFTER MASS, I WHOM HE COUNTED HIS CLOSEST FRIEND, WENT AND ASKED HIM IF HE FELT A LITTLE BETTER. ‘DO NOT ASK ME ABOUT THAT,’ HE ANSWERED; ‘NOT ABOUT THAT…LISTEN CAREFULLY. I SHALL CERTAINLY DIE VERY SOON. I SHALL NOT LIVE; I SHALL NOT RECOVER.’

WHEN HERMANN SPOKE THIS WAY BERTHOLD, BROKE DOWN COMPLETELY, AND THEN HE SAID:”AFTER A WHILE HERMANN QUITE INDIGNANTLY UPRAIDED ME, TREMBLING, AND LOOKING AT ME SIDEWAYS WITH PUZZLED EYES.” HE SAID: ‘DO NOT WEEP, DO NOT WEEP FOR ME.’“ AND HE MADE BERTHOLD TAKE HIS WRITING-TABLETS AND PUT DOWN A FEW LAST THINGS. AND HE ADDED,” BY REMEMBERING DAILY THAT YOU TOO ARE TO DIE, PREPARE YOURSELF WITH ALL YOUR ENERGY FOR THE SELF-SAME JOURNEY, FOR, ON SOME DAY AND HOUR, YOU KNOW NOT WHEN, YOU SHALL FOLLOW ME FORTH—ME, YOUR DEAR, DEAR FRIEND. AND ON THESE WORDS HE CEASED.”

HERMANN DIED, AFTER RECEIVING THE BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST IN HOLY COMMUNION. HE DIED AMONG ALL HIS FRIENDS, ON SEPTEMBER 24, 1054. HE WAS BURIED-- AMID GREAT LAMENTATION--IN HIS OWN ESTATE OF ALTSHAUSEN-- THAT HE HAD GIVEN UP SO MANY YEARS AGO.

THERE IS A NATURAL INSTINCT INSIDE EACH ONE OF US THAT TO LIVE IS BETTER THAN NOT TO LIVE. WE HAVE RECEIVED THE GIFT OF LIFE FROM THE LORD OF LIFE. WE MUST NEVER BETRAY OUR BASIC INSTINCTS BY ENDING INCONVENIENT HUMAN LIFE.

THIS IS WHAT I CONCLUDE FROM HERMANN’S LIFE:

  1. THE SECULARIST WHO IS SO SURE THAT THE DISABLED, THE DEFORMED, THE DEFECTIVE, THE INCUREABLY SICK AND THE AGING SHOULD BE DISPOSED OF BECAUSE THEY ARE A BURDEN TO SOCIETY, ARE PROVED WRONG ONCE AGAIN BY PEOPLE LIKE HERMANN-- THE CRIPPLE AND MANY OTHERS IN OUR OWN DAY.
  2. IT IS NONSENSE TO SAY THAT A SICKLY BODY PRODUCES A SICKLY MIND. HIS FINENESS OF SOUL, HIS JOYFULNESS IN PAIN, AND HIS SWEETNESS OF MOOD PRODUCED GREAT FRUIT AND MADE HIM LOVED BY ALL. THE LIFE OF THIS TWISTED LITTLE FELLOW FROM THE DARK AGES PROVIDES THE PROOF OF HOW PAIN DOES NOT ALWAYS SPELL MISERY; PLEASURE DOES NOT ALWAYS SPELL HAPPINESS.

 

I WANT TO CLOSE BY TELLING YOU ABOUT A YOUNG COUPLE WHO ARE CARING FOR A DEFECTIVE CHILD. IN FACT THEY AND THEIR FOUR OTHER CHILDREN ARE CARING FOR A DEFECTIVE CHILD.

 

RECENTLY THE COUPLE WENT ON FACEBOOK AND CONNECTED, ALREADY, WITH ABOUT 50 OTHER FAMILIES WITH A DEFECTIVE CHILD. THE SUPPORT SYSTEM PROVIDED BY THESE COUPLES TO EACH OTHER IS INCREDIBLE.

 

COULD A DEFECTIVE CHILD BRING OUT IN PEOPLE A COMPASSION, STRENGTH AND COURAGE THAT THEY THOUGHT THEY NEVER HAD? COULD THIS CHILD BE GOD’S PLAN FOR ENABLING HUNDREDS OF OTHER PEOPLE TO REACH OUT IN LOVE AND PRACTICAL HELP?

 

THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE ALL OVER THE WORLD WANT CHARLIE CARD TO LIVE.

BLESSED HERMANN PRAY FOR CHARLIE’S FAMILY AND PRAY FOR US.

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