LET IT aLL sTART hERE
For Catholics who care...
When you love a Catholic whose earthly journey is coming to an end: CALL A PRIEST!
When you work in the medical field or when you are caring for an elderly Disciple of Christ in a nursing home, take ownership of the duty and honor you have been given and pay attention to what that faithful person of God needs: CALL A PRIEST! Understand that for a believer it goes beyond what the body requires and at that point no one can help him but a priest. Remember this: There are no dress rehearsals in death...no second chances. So when you love a Catholic one way to show that love is to acknowledge his faith and understand what The Catholic Church teaches then CALL A PRIEST before it is too late.
Think of my words as an alarm sounding! Think of them as a piercing alert that will be followed by clear instructions. Or think of them as something like gong that breaks the silence to wake you up and get you to PAY ATTENTION to the needs of the dying Catholic and his soul.
If you love a Catholic you owe him that much. The spiritual needs of the sick and the dying at this point supersede all else and "the dying should be given attention and care to help them live their last moments in dignity and peace." (CCC, no.2299) The guardians of the sick and dying have a responsibility to their charges to provide the prayer that is necessary, and they"must see to it that the sick receive at the proper time the sacraments that prepare them to meet the living God." (CCC, no. 2299)
There is no way around this. If the Catholic's needs are forgotten, dismissed or ignored as he is dying, if his spiritual necessities are overlooked simply because the caregiver isn't a believer, isn't Christian, or isn't in agreement... then that is neglectful in its intent. And I say this because I have seen this; and I want to talk about it so that there are no more forgotten Catholics who leave this planet with an “un-punched” ticket.
Families and health care providers are obligated to do what is right for the dying Catholic and that begins with understanding his faith. It begins with having a dialogue with the Catholic to learn what he would like done, as well as what he needs done. I have been in hospital settings where a nurse, when questioned about calling a priest responded: "Well... we’ll get to that tomorrow I’m sure." (Tomorrow! If her house was burning down would she look for a bucket of water tomorrow?) I have also heard of healthcare facilities calling for a priest to come after the person has died. ("Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." ) Remember, sacraments can only be celebrated by the living!
Caregivers must be empathetic to the urgency of a dying Catholic's plight. But how does a person who does not believe in God find that empathy? Try this: If your home was on fire, if your house was burning down and you had less than two minutes to take what was most important to you, ...think of how might you feel? Remember that those feelings of panic and uncertainty are multiplied and heightened for the dying Catholic who believes with all his heart in the promises of
Christ. He needs your help to get ready....
The Catholic’s affairs must be in order and that means he must participate in The Sacrament of The Sick and Dying. He must participate in reconciliation, which can only be celebrated when a person still has the ability to communicate. More importantly, receiving communion as viaticum, which is what Last Rites are, is only possible while a person is still able to swallow, even if only a small piece of the Body of Christ, or a drop of his Precious Blood.
My prayer is that everyone reading this essay realizes something they hadn't thought much about before and remembers to always call a priest for the sick or dying Catholic.