By Tedler D. Depaynos, MD
It was quite some time when we suddenly met an old coffee-mate who migrated abroad. He was working as an engineer until he retired. They were living in a wide rural town and during Sundays the few inhabitants practically meet each other in their church. Since he was very active in the church activities when he was still around, he likewise became active when he went abroad especially now that he has retired. Together with their pastor who happens to be a Filipino, they try to make hospital or home visitations to their members who are seriously sick as a routine. Sometimes, they also make voluntary contributions if the sick seems to be in need. He emphasized, however, that because of their small population and the presence of some country mates, they became quite close. He was wondering if this is also being done here especially in the rural areas.
Being inactive in church activities, I am not aware if their routine is also done by some of our rural churches. Obviously, because of the huge number of church goers, perhaps it is not. I am aware however that some church assemblies visit some well known sick members like kidney transplant patients whom they give encouragement and offer prayers for their recovery. Some priests perhaps on their own visit some members regularly even when they are not around because they may be rotated in distant churches. The members tend to be known to them because of their voluntary support to their missions.
In a certain hospital, some elderly nuns make a daily visit to hospital patients offering prayers and spiritual counseling. This is very significant to patients who are seriously ill and appear to have difficulty in complete recovery. In another hospital, there was a time when priests could be seen going around offering communion to confined patients. For sure some church elders include known patients in their prayers even without visiting them. Some are requested by their relatives or friends to be offered prayers.
Spiritual encouragement is sometimes forgotten during treatment. I could remember during my student days an elderly MD consultant who offer this to some of his serious patients. Before parting, he always mentions trusting in the Lord and have faith and apparently, it strengthens most of his patients. He murmurs sometimes a short prayer even after parting and is already in the corridor.
In several occasions, he even suggested to their relatives or watchers to do likewise. He emphasized that even if patients appear unconscious, they could still hear because the last sense to disappear is the sense of hearing. Sometimes, they respond by a sudden flicker of their eyelids or a movement of their fingers so that when talking to these patients, he always suggested that their hands should be held.
My elderly MD consultant emphasized that of course, the religious belief of each patient will play a big role but being reminded that the Lord is always around and trusting in Him will do a lot in the patient’s recovery.
While requesting for our coffee refill our lawyer coffee-mate who silently just came from abroad was about to relate his experience with regards to the “native rituals” his relatives did when he was once confined when our foreigner friend suddenly stood up because of a previous appointment. Standing outside the coffee shop was his “wife” in her high heels signaling him to come out. As we looked outside we were all with wide smiles and our topic shifted away from the “native rituals”.**