Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Something Happened!

Sacrament of Anointing
aka Last Rites
aka Extreme Unction
Alright, really cool story here. You paying attention? I went to go anoint someone. During the rite, there is a moment when the priest lays hands on the individual's forehead (if possible) and then he anoints the sick person's forehead and hands. What is really cool is that as a priest, we can at times be there to notice that SOMETHING ACTUALLY HAPPENS during the sacrament.

Something seems to happen mainly at the laying of hands. My experience and the experiences of some of my priest friends seem to convey the same thing.




Alright, Father, WHAT HAPPENED?
I went to hospice to visit a man in his room. The room he will most likely die in. No one was there as I walked into the room. His family had left before I arrived. The man laid there...asleep...in the still and very quiet room. There was rustling as he figited around every now and then. The nurse told me outside that he had an intense night and was given some sedatives to give him more of a rest...so he was in and out...mainly out.

They say that these people can still hear everything that goes on on some level. I spoke to him. Introduced myself and told him why I was there. And then I began, "The peace of the Lord be with you always..." I began all the prayers, slowly talking to him saying, "alright, this is what I'm going to do next..." If he was aware on any level, I wanted him to be able to participate in this awesome sacrament as much as possible...

For whatever reason, one of the prayers before I laid hands struck me: "Give life and health to our brother, on whom we lay our hands in your name."

Mind you this whole time, he would move side to side in his sleep; figiting and unconsciously scratching his dry skin...and then...I laid my hands on his head in silence...

and he became still...and within seconds...his body began to tremble...his whole body began to shake softly...as if something was happening to him...something within him...I continued to stand over him with my hands gently placed on his head...and after a few seconds he became still and peaceful...

I removed my hands and took a moment to gather myself so as to continue the prayers. I looked up at him and in his silence he let out a sigh of relief; that kind of relief that one has after experiencing something beautiful...and a small little smirk came to the surface of his sleep-drawn face.

I continued and anointed him with the oils praying: "Through this holy anointing may the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit. Amen. May the Lord who frees you from sin save you and raise you up. Amen."

And again, he exhaled a sigh of peaceful relief...I slowly finished up...and left him...alone...praying for him and for his family...

Something happened. I know something happened. Even when people are knocked out and hooked up to machines, my friends tell me that when they lay hands, the monitors begin beeping and making noise and the person begins breathing heavily...the person responds on some level...and then...afterward...he/she goes back to normal...

The Sacrament is a living encounter with Christ...something happens...and I GET to be the instrument, the priest by which it comes about....cool....


2 comments:

  1. God bless you Father. I wasn't there when my father was anointed, but the day he died the Deacon brought him Holy Communion and he raised up. I know he knew he was receiving Jesus. He died peacefully that evening.
    Barbara

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  2. We talked about experiences other priests had in class today. All centered around the person calming or being peaceful. Beautiful.

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