Monday, August 07, 2006
PARISH HERMITS by Kathi Scarpace
A parishioner I visit is dying. He is battling leukemia and undergoing chemotherapy every couple of weeks. His hair has fallen out, he is weak, and life is hard.
He decided to plan his funeral. He wants certain readings, a few favorite songs, and some say in how he and is family remember his life and commemorate his departure.
It is not easy to visit. I bring him communion each week. We pray the readings and share our comments. This man was a friend long before he was sick. As the days and weeks go by, the inevitability of death becomes more transparent. We share a few laughs, some long silences, and talk about whatever seems important on that particular day.
I want to grasp these days, but they seem to be slipping away like the days of a special vacation. Each conversation is measured and held, examined like a shell found on the shore. Fortunately, my friend has been given the grace to live at home through his illness.
In my mind, the homebound members of our parish are like the hermits of monastic communities. The hermits live alone and yet remain connected to the monastery; the homebound are connected to the parish through their prayers, their financial contributions, and through the sacraments.
They live their lives “hidden in Christ” and their work is to pray. They do pray for the priests, the sick of the parish, for family and friends. When they die, they become part of the communion of saints and continue their work as advocates for the parish.
The inability to leave home and sit through a Sunday Mass is only a physical limitation. Creaky legs, congestive heart failure and cancer does not limit the life of the Spirit. Homebound parishioners serve the community.
I count on the prayers of my friend to see me through. He can count on me to see him through as well.
(Click here to view the rest of the many wonderful articles that await you in www.ParishWorld.net, America's Catholic Lifestyle Magazine)