A Catholic Patientâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Guide to Hospital
Edited by Fr Peter Michael Scott
All booklets are published thanks to the generous support of the members of the Catholic Truth Society
CATHOLIC TRUTH SOCIETY
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publishers to the holy see
Contents Preparing for a Stay in Hospital . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Hospital Chaplaincy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Some Useful Hints and Advice on How to Pray in Hospital . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Some Questions Answered on Being Anointed . . . . . . 23 Some Moral and Ethical Questions When in Hospital . . 29 Some Natural Questions You May Ask of God if You are a Patient in Hospital . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Some Familiar Prayers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Nihil Obstat: Terry Tastard Diocesan Censor Imprimatur: ď &#x20AC; Vincent Nichols Archbishop of Westminster, 10th March 2017
Other than Professor Jim McManus, each chapter has been written by a healthcare chaplain. A particular thanks is given to Deacon Anthony Clark for his valuable advice. The prayers at the end of the book have all been submitted by healthcare chaplains of Westminster Diocese. All rights reserved. First published 2017 by The Incorporated Catholic Truth Society 40-46 Harleyford Road London SE11 5AY Tel: 020 7640 0042 Fax: 020 7640 0040 ÂŠ 2017 The Incorporated Catholic Truth Society. ISBN 978 1 78469 182 0
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Preparing for a Stay in Hospital Bishop Paul McAleenan You have been informed that you need to spend some time in hospital as an inpatient. When we receive such news, expectedly or unexpectedly, it has some effect on us. A hospital is not where one would choose to be. Whether hospital admission is for a minor or serious reason it is good for our psychological and spiritual well-being to be as well prepared as possible. We prepare for any journey, though admittedly, a hospital stay is different in that rather than excitement we may experience worry or apprehension. To prepare is not to panic, it is in fact to put things in place for our own benefit and peace of mind. It is, in a sense, to take control of the situation rather than to have the feeling of being subject to anotherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s will. As Catholics we have recourse to the richness of what the Church offers to those who need her help in all the situations we encounter in life â&#x20AC;&#x201C; including a stay in hospital. Just as those responsible for your physical health provide what is needed, so too the Church has a treasury to assist the hospital patient. As well as family members, close friends and medical authorities the local parish community also desires to support you at this time.
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It is recommended therefore that you inform your parish priest that you will not be present in the worshipping community for a longer or shorter time, or request another to do so for you. This has a twofold purpose and benefit. It alerts your parish priest of your intended absence and it is an opportunity to ask for prayers for yourself. It is to be hoped that the hospital to which you will be admitted will have a chaplain. There is benefit in taking time before admission to talk over any fears you may have, to receive absolution in the sacrament of reconciliation and holy anointing in the sacrament of the sick. In preparing in this way one is then accompanied by the grace of God, receiving a strength and confidence for the days ahead, and in doing so we make the words of the hymn, “I will be with you wherever you go” our own. In confessing our sins we have the assurance that we are at rights with God. The sacrament of the sick is a sacrament designed especially for those who need the strength which God provides for those who are experiencing a breaking down of full health. Within the space and comfort of a church or presbytery setting or in your own private home a suitable length of time can be given to ensure that one is spiritually ready for a hospital stay. In the Gospel of Mark we read of four men who brought their sick friend to Jesus. Unable to reach him due to the crowd, “they stripped the roof over the place where Jesus was” (Mk 2:4) and lowered their friend into his presence.
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Nothing would prevent them bringing the one they loved into the presence of Jesus. To be aware of support when experiencing illness is important. In light of this you may also wish to invite some close family members or friends to be present when you are anointed. In this way it becomes not just a private affair but a sign of community and family support. The sacrament of the sick has a community dimension, through her ministry and in the sacraments the Church provides the assurance of support. When one enters hospital therefore one does not go alone, but is accompanied by the prayers of those who believe. As you prepare, the community puts the communion of saints into action and you who are precious are carried in prayer. Meeting with the priest beforehand has the added advantage in that he can include you in prayer, invite others to pray for you and let you know of aftercare in the parish when Holy Communion can be brought to your home should a time of convalescence be required. With your permission, he can inform the Hospital Chaplain. This is especially important if the hospital you are due to enter is some distance from your home. The Hospital Chaplain can arrange for you to receive Holy Communion, and inform you of the location of the hospital chapel and times of Masses. In preparing for a hospital stay one does so with a quiet confidence. We know that the Lord wants to be part of all aspects of our lives, no element of our life is outside
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his domain or concern. The psalmists give voice to this awareness in Psalm 131 where we read, “as a child rests on its mother’s knee so I place my soul in your loving care”. It is this confidence that the believer has when encountering the difficulties of life including health issues. And again we read in Psalm 139, “O Lord you search me and you know me, you know my resting and my rising, you discern my purpose from afar. You mark when I walk or lie down, all my ways lie open to you.” It is this Lord who is so familiar with us whose assistance we seek. I remember as a chaplain upon first entering the hospital where I was to minister seemed to me like travelling to another planet. Topics of conversation, thoughts and concerns which usually occupy the mind on the outside were replaced with more immediate and personal matters. In time I came to see that such is normal. It is natural when confronted with illness to have a sense of vulnerability which filters into our thoughts and words. There was an occasion when the Lord needed help and “an angel appeared to him, coming from heaven to give him strength” (Lk 22:43). In preparation for a hospital stay may you too experience the strength and confidence which God gives to those who need it.
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Hospital Chaplaincy Fr Peter Michael Scott What is a Hospital Chaplain? The Hospital Chaplain has been appointed by the bishop in agreement with the hospital to look after your spiritual and religious needs. Like the Good Samaritan they are available to all, are non-judgemental and should never pass by “on the other side”. Chaplains are trained to listen to your spiritual needs and questions, to administer the sacraments and to pray with you. A chaplain can be a priest, a deacon, a religious sister or a lay person. Some are full time, many are part time or voluntary. Volunteer chaplains have honorary contracts with the hospital. What are my spiritual and religious needs? Spirituality is about “being”. It is about the disposition of the heart and the spirit. A spiritual person is not someone who merely ‘serves’ God, but is in a relationship with God. Within this relationship, spiritual needs can be expressed or felt as searching questions, such as “Why is this happening to me?” or “Why does a loving God allow illness and suffering?” We should not feel guilty about
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these questions, they are very natural and your Hospital Chaplain will be happy to listen and guide you. Your religious need is when you encounter the dynamic presence of Jesus, whether through the sacraments, through prayer or when reading Scripture. It is often, when encountering Jesus through a sacrament, prayer or Scripture that your spiritual needs or questions are answered or calmed. Does the chaplain only visit those who are dying? No, the chaplain will visit any patient, those dying and those happy to be going home after a major operation. Speaking to a chaplain may calm your fear or anxiety before an operation; they will give you Holy Communion if you unable to attend Mass, be a supportive listener if you are unhappy with your care, or provide advice if there is something in your life that you wish to talk about. Chaplains are not counsellors, but they draw upon the sacraments, prayer, Scripture and Church teaching to assist you. How do I contact the chaplain? There are three ways to contact a chaplain. Before admission, you may like to tell your parish priest that you are going into hospital and ask him to arrange for the Hospital Chaplain to visit. Alternatively, on admission, the person admitting you may ask you your religion and if you would like a chaplain to visit; this request should be passed to the chaplains and one of them will come to see you.
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Finally, chaplains can be contacted at any time during your stay, and if you would like to see one, just ask one of the ward staff to contact them. What if I am asleep or being seen by one of the ward staff when the chaplain comes? Chaplains are very flexible, and happy to visit when you are next awake or when you are on your own. They will not interrupt the visit of a clinical member of staff. They will understand that if you have family or friends visiting, you want to spend time with them. Sometimes they may leave a calling card to reassure you that you have not been forgotten and that they will come back to see you. Can I talk to the chaplain about anything? Will the chaplain keep what I am saying confidential? A chaplain will keep everything you say confidential. You can talk to a chaplain about anything. They are pleased for you to set the agenda of your conversation. The only exception is for safeguarding reasons. If you tell the chaplain that a patient or a child is in danger, then the chaplain (and indeed any priest) will be obliged to disclose it. Will the chaplain tell my relatives and friends why I am in hospital? No, if the chaplain meets your relatives and friends they will be polite and welcoming, but will not talk about you, unless they have your permission.
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Will the chaplain tell my parish priest that I am in hospital? The chaplain will not tell your parish priest that you are in hospital unless you give permission to do so. You might, for example, want your parish priest to know that you have been admitted, but not the rest of the parish. In such a case it is important to tell this to the chaplain, so that your name does not appear in a parish newsletter. When you leave hospital, the chaplain will, with your agreement, contact your parish priest so that he can visit you while you recover at home. I have not been to church for a long time. Can I still ask the chaplain to come and see me? Yes, the chaplain will be delighted to come and meet you. If you are uncertain about praying or the sacraments, the chaplain will happily guide you. The chaplain will not embarrass or judge you. What if a non-Catholic patient wants to see a chaplain? Most Catholic chaplains belong to chaplaincy teams which consist of individuals from various Christian denominations and other faiths. Catholic chaplains are only too happy to visit non-Catholics but, with the patientâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s permission, may refer them on to a minister or faith leader who shares their beliefs.
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If my chaplain is not a priest, can they still anoint me or hear my confession? No, only priests can anoint and hear confession. If your chaplain is a deacon, religious sister or a lay person and you want to receive anointing or reconciliation, they will contact a local priest to come into the hospital to celebrate the sacraments. This priest will respect your confidentiality. I do not want others to overhear my conversation with a chaplain. Do they have an office or chapel in the hospital? Most hospitals are equipped with a chapel or a prayer room. These spaces are usually for Mass or for prayer. Some chaplains may share an office with another member of their team, so provided you are allowed to leave your ward, the chaplain will find a quiet space to listen and pray with you, where you will not be overheard. Alternatively the nurses may be able to find somewhere on the ward where you can speak privately. Can I ask for the chaplain to visit me in the middle of the night? If you are in danger of death, then it is very important that you ask for a chaplain. You may wish to receive the sacrament of reconciliation, Holy Communion and anointing. However, if you are anxious or worried and wish to talk to a chaplain, then it would be better if you could wait until daylight hours.
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Regarding missing Sunday Mass When you are in hospital as a patient, the Sunday obligation falls away. However if there is a Mass in the chapel you are encouraged to attend if you have the strength to do so. Otherwise let the chaplain know that you would like to receive Holy Communion and they will come to you on the ward. Sometimes the chaplain comes to bring me Holy Communion and I’ve just finished my lunch. Do I have to fast an hour before receiving? When you are in hospital as a patient, the requirement to fast for an hour before receiving Holy Communion falls away. I haven’t been to confession for many years and now wonder if it’s too late to ask a priest to come to hear my confession just because I am ill? It’s never too late to seek to be reconciled and ask for the sacrament of reconciliation. Being ill in hospital is often a very opportune time to review one’s life and seek to put right what has gone awry. Being ill in hospital has been really difficult for me. As well as the pain and the worry, I sometimes feel God has abandoned me. Other times I feel he is punishing me. What should I do? Firstly, ask the chaplain to come and listen to you. Regarding the sense of being punished, it is very natural to try and find
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a reason why one is ill, and it is common to think it’s a punishment for something you have done wrong. But God isn’t like that. Being ill is a normal part of being human and often happens quite at random. The important thing is to recognise and rejoice that God’s love is surrounding you and is there for you in your illness. He would never abandon you – your name is carved upon his hand.
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