06-11-2022Weekly ReflectionFr. Charlie Goraieb

Dear Friends,

Next week is the Feast of Corpus Christi, where we give thanks to God for granting us the Gift of the Holy Eucharist. It is also the beginning of the three-year Eucharistic Revival initiative, sponsored by the American Bishops. The purpose of the Revival is to fortify us against the storm we are facing in the culture and our Church by uniting us once again around the source and summit of our faith--the Holy Eucharist. We will keep you informed as the process unfolds. You can also sign up on the website to find out more and to receive updates directly:


To kick it off at OLMC, we will have an indoor procession of the Holy Eucharist at the end of all of the Masses on next week. (For those who are sensitive to incense, there will be no incense used at the 7:00am Mass on Sunday).

I want to address a challenging and complex topic--the medical practice of using “brain death” to determine the time of death. The concept of brain death was introduced in 1968 by an influential committee from Harvard Medical School. They proposed the definition of an “irreversible coma as new criterion for death.” The problem with this contradictory statement is that if someone is in a coma (regardless of how long), they are in fact alive, not dead.

Over the past 50 years, their definition gained acceptance by the medical community and became the basis for the harvesting of organs for those needing transplants. The problem is that in the vast majority of these cases, the “donors,” although declared “brain dead” most likely were actually still alive. Their bodies were still continuing to perform the normal bodily functions (one woman began menstruating 10 months after being declared brain dead). She either came back to life (not likely), or was never dead in the first place.

There is no unanimous consensus on the issue. In fact, two working groups of the Vatican Pontifical Academy of Sciences have stated that brain death is an acceptable criterion for death, while reliable Catholic bio-ethics experts and theologians have strongly objected to it. It is morally acceptable to be an organ donor. But in the light of the tremendous demand for organ transplants and the increasing reliance on “brain death”, it is important for us to have a good sense of the issues involved in the argument so that we can make informed, good-conscience decisions. 

It is not my objective to cause you doubt or regret if you’ve received an organ--that is a great gift. But if you plan to be a donor, I suggest that you should make use of Advanced Medical Directives to clearly state your intention that before your organs are removed you must truly be dead before physicians begin to remove your organs, thereby killing you. From my reading, that translates to no heartbeat and/or no lung activity.

Remember, when you applied for an AZ Driver’s License, you were asked if you wish to be an organ donor. If you said “yes”, then I suggest that you clearly make known to your children and caretakers (in writing) that you do not want someone to take the step of killing you for the sake of harvesting your organs. Below are links, to some helpful--even contradictory--articles.




May God bless you and your family, Fr Charlie Goraieb