Thursday, February 20, 2014

The World of the Sick

Never before have so many people around me been in need of prayers. They are either very sick, elderly or suffering from debilitating diseases or worse, an unknown disease.

As Catholics it is our responsibility to perform the corporal act of mercy of visiting the sick.  Sometimes, we are called to do more than just visit them.

One person has an aggressive form of breast cancer. Nothing she has done has helped.  She and her husband pray and wait for an answer to their prayers.  It has been almost two years and they have no relief in sight.  Their situation only gets worse.

Friends visit them, bring them Holy Communion, bring them meals, bring them a priest to hear confession, ask how they are doing, and of course pray.  Yet, they feel isolated.

The husband told me that no one understands the world of the sick.

That is incredible food for thought.

Yes, we may do our part to help, but then we have the luxury to do something else.  We can go home.  We can distract ourselves with other things.  But the very sick live every moment of their time consumed in pain.

I don't presume to imagine how they feel or where their relationship is with God.  But it is frustrating to hear the sick, especially the Catholics who are sick, not unite their suffering to those of Jesus' Passion.  One told me she offered enough of her sufferings.  She was now looking for relief.  Another told me, she offers her sufferings for her own soul.  This was in response to a suggestion that she offer up her pain and suffering for others in need.  Yet another Catholic says he believes in what ever happens, happens.  This fatalistic thinking is not in union with Catholic teaching.  Neither is the belief in karma or healing with Eastern energies such as Reiki.

When one is seriously sick and in pain, it is very difficult to think of anything but the consuming pain.  It is especially during this time that the sick person should turn to God.  Tell Him all your pains. Ask Him to heal you if it be His will.  Ask Him to help you patiently endure until He sees fit to give you relieve.  Offer your pains as reparation for your past sins or for those of your loved ones.  This is especially important because you may be suffering like this as a gift from God so that you can do your time in Purgatory, while you are still alive.  This is what is meant by not to waste your sufferings.

Caregivers, particularly the spouse of the sick person, also suffers right along their loved one.  They too must offer up their sufferings.  But it is also important that they remind the sick person that it is only holy sufferings if it is united to those of Christ's.

Prayer of Resignation in Suffering

Merciful Lord of life,
I lift up my heart to You in my suffering
and ask for your comforting help.
I know that you would withhold the thorns of this life
if I could attain eternal life without them.
So I throw myself on Your mercy,
resigning myself to this suffering.
Grant me the grace to bear it
and to offer it in union with Your sufferings.
No matter what suffering may come my way,
let me always trust in You.