by Msgr. Andrew Manley
Dear Brothers and Sisters, of the cloth of Christ’ service on earth. I start this statement off in this way for a very specific reason. That is, as each of us that are committed to the cause of prayer and or even fasting on this auspices occasion I would like to point out that this day of prayer for those that are in mourning should also include ourselves, as we who maybe called upon to a bedside of the dieing and or dealing with those around that are also dealing with the immanent effects of administering the sacrament of the sick and also called last rights in the Catholic faith of Christianity.
We as ministers of the life and word of the Holy Trinity are called upon to do something that many people could not, and that is to help bring calm, guidance and compassion into a situation that may have no order. This in it’s self, can be a daunting experience, especially when it comes to dealing with those that have just lost a child or even a life long companion. We must first be able to keep ourselves from getting to wrapped up in the moment of sporadic emotional turmoil.
What I am alluding to is this, we have to be able to have come to grips with the level of loss, suffering and grief in our own lives before we can except the responsibilities of being the comforter to those that may or may not be of a spiritual acceptance or understanding. We our selves need to pray for all members of the clergy that are and or will be called upon to preform such an emotional task. Yes we can rely on our on strengths of spiritual guidance but in some cases it is better to be true to ones self and or know ones own limitations and maybe in a word, be a bigger person, and that is to step aside and or between now and then (meaning, the call to preform last rights and or to console those that grieve), we should draw from each other an understanding of not only the process of death or rather stages of death but also the stages of grief as well. Yes granted prayer can and will get us through the situation but at what cost to our own spiritual life.
I suggest that care be given to this subject and would ask that we each take some time to pray for one another so as to show a level of support within our own ministries. There are organizations in most every community that deal with the terminally ill and those that suffer along with them. Some organizations are the Hospice, or maybe a religious nursing program or even attending community programs dealing with palliative care and intervention. These to will better equip ourselves with not only the spiritual armor of the word of God but also the spiritual armor of humanity and compassion.
Please forgive my rant, but this is a subject I have personally had to deal with for the better part of three to four decades of my own personal walk in spirituality. I would like you all to remember what our lord Jesus said in two parts, 1st the book of Luke chapter 4, verse 18 the latter part of this verse, “to set at liberty them that are bruised”. Also in verse 23, of Luke where Christ says “physician, heal thyself”. Granted both quotes are somewhat taken out of contents, but it is left to interpretation. When I read this, it was like Christ, Himself put it into my heart to pass along here. That is that we know our calling to minister is of God or other wise we would not be here. But we are to take an understanding of what ministering is and or should be. Yes, we are called to pray, but prayer without meat is and empty plate. We are also called to be that same example of comforter as Christ was, and although, when He referred to that part of verse 23, I felt our Father saying inside of me say to be vigilant to the expectations of ministry under adverse circumstances such as death and grief.
On a final note I would suggest to all clergy to explore educational means outside of your comfort zone to help aid you as a minister of the great comforter. Acquire the armor needed to show support into how to respond to immediate circumstances, such as rolling up on a tragic scene or even dealing with the consoling and counseling of those dealing directly with a long term illness or those that have to move on and get over the dangerous aspects of depression, guilt or even conflict.
So please, please take a few moments during this day of prayer and pray for one another and as for those that may not be comfortable or even ready to deal with such situations as the grief and or dieing of others, aiding them both through the gauntlet of emotional exasperation. To consider looking into ways to aid you in becoming a better comforter yourself.
May God bless our meager prayers and thoughts and exhort them with a true compassion of His grace that only He could ever provide.
Sincerely your newest brother in the service of Christ Jesus’ the true comforter of all mankind.
Msgr. Andrew R. M. Manley DD. O.S.M. Chaplain