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Posted December 3, 2013

Book: The Art of Caring for the Sick: Guidelines for Creative Ministry
Author: Arnaldo Pangrazzi
St. Pauls. Staten Island. NY. 2013. Pp. 131

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

This book seeks to be a guide and a companion for those who are involved in the health care ministry. As such, it is intended to offer perspectives or windows through which the individual can have a better understanding of the complex world of health, suffering, dying and death. It embraces three different perspectives: prevention, care and rehabilitation. "Prevention has to do with promoting healthy lifestyles. "Care is rooted in the development of human and professional skills for attending those who are experiencing sickness or fragility at several levels in their lives: physical, mental, spiritual and social.

"Rehabilitation includes a diligent follow-up to the needs of the patient and the family. This is especially true when the therapies are long and coping with an illness imposes a lot of demands. Follow-up can be handled at home, in a hospital or at any nurturing setting and employs an interdisciplinary team of heart-care and mental health-care workers to assure continuity of care. The introductory chapters place health-care ministry within the biblical, theological and historical framework of the Church's mission. Special attention is given to the leaders as the prime agents of all that follows. They need to prepare themselves in order to be better equipped to involve, educate and supervise other collaborators (religious, catechists, volunteers, etc.) who visit and comfort the sick on behalf of the Christian community. The book combines theory with praxis by proposing a number of exercises, the analysis of pastoral dialogues, and the use of case studies.

Excerpt from the Book:

It is Over. . .

Francesca is a nurse, age 27. She is slowly wasting away devoured by fever and exhausted by a relentless cough. Here I report one of the last visits with her

Dialogue: V=Vicky R=Ruth

R1. It is over. . . .I know that it is over. . . At 27 years of age I have nothing more on which to rely . . . I have no more hope. I pray to God and to Our Lady, but they don't hear me. there is no healing for me. No more. . . no more. (She closes her eyes, sobs. After a short moment of silence she resumes. I'll not get better. . .(She looks at me distressed) I feel I am going to die. . .

V1 Ruth, did you talk with someone about the kind of deep distress that you're sharing with me?

R2 (Gripping my and strongly) No, I cannot talk . . . I do not want to talk! I don't want to see anyone! I have distanced myself from everybody. I do not want to cause problems to my poor parents. . . they already suffered enough seeing me like this. . .

V2 Do you feel a sense of guilt toward thems?

R3 Yes, after all that they have done for me, I do not want to cause them suffering by communicating to them this feeling of dying that I have within me. . .don't you see how terrible I look, how I am wasting away?. . . I do not to see anybody! . . .Already I am nailed to this bed, unable to do anything! I am not even able to pray. I always have this cough and fever that never leave me . . . I used to be such a dynamic and alive person . . .Now everything irks me. . .everything (silence).

V3 Everything disturbs you . . .

R4 Yes, everything that moves, speaks, works … all annoy me. Do you understand why I do not want to see anyone? When the relatives come here, they talk about everything except that which interests me. They do it in order to distract me. They believe that they are doing me some good; instead they only make me angry. I don't want to see anyone . . .(silence and cough). However, you come! (It seems almost like a plea).

V4 Certainly, I will do everything possible to stay near you, when you like it. . .

R5 . . .(coughs) excuse me I do not have the strength to speak.

V5 It doesn't matter; I'll remain here in silence, holding you by the hand, if it does not irk you. (She makes a sign of no. She closes her eyes, seems to rest for a while . . .after a long silence)

R6 It is all over . . .I have already suffered enough. . .it is enough, it is enough! Oh, my God, my God, such pain. It's enough, my God. I've already suffered a lot! (She laments, coughs, there is silence . . .she invokes God again. . .)

V6 (I whisper to her) Would you like us to pray together for God's help?

R7 Yes, do me this favor. Tell Him not to make me suffer.

V& (We recite together the "Our Father," then I add) O god, our Father, help Ruth in this difficult and painful moment. Welcome her cry, her rebellion and her tiredness. Let her feel that You are near her, that You share her pain. O Holy Virgin, be near Ruth in this valley of tears and guide her to you. Amen.

Evaluation of the visit

Ruth, a young nurse is manifesting her physical agony and expressing her feelings, and concerns before dying,

She does not want to be a burden to her parents, she is gradually consuming herself and does not want to see anyone, also because visitors irritate her by their attitude and speech.

She appreciate the discreet visit of Vicky who delicately gives her room to ventilate her thoughts, her sense of exhaustion, and her inner desperation. She encourages her to cry to God and to the Blessed Virgin.

Vicky's gifts to Ruth are her presence, her listening, her silence her touch and her prayer that captures the painful moment Ruth is going through.

In the same way Vicky's presence witnesses the spirit of the Good Samaritan who bends over the wounded person to alleviate his loneliness and sorrow.

Table of Contents:

1. Biblical maps: the Good Shepherd and the Good Samaritan

2. The other three maps for a creative journey: cultural, personal and pastoral

3. Jesus a model in caring for the sick and the mission of the Church

4. The Church and the new focus on pastoral health care

5. Promoting and organizing pastoral health care today

6. The experience of sickness and the responses to it

7. The art of communicating with the sick

8. Healing the whole person

9. Attentions in ministry: caring for the families

10. Ministry to the health care workers

11. Ministry to the community