Wednesday, November 30, 2011

FIRST WEEK OF ADVENT

Isaiah 63:16-19; 64:2-7,
Ps. 79,
I Cor 1:3-9,
Gospel Mark 13:33-37

“When you do not know what to do- wait” (Anon)

In the calendar of the church, this is how this Sunday is announced: ‘The first Sunday of preparation for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ’
Advent means ‘coming of the Lord’. The four weeks of advent mean a time of preparation- it is a time of holy desire, longing and expectation.
Go to the shops in Nairobi or the city around you; take a glance over newspapers. In one way or the other they are preparing men and women in for Christmas.

Whatever their faith shall we believers do less than non-believers?

How is the Church preparing for her children?

i) She places us before the first coming of Christ. Here we can see and experience the spiritual desire and longing for certain noble souls. She also introduces us into the method by which God once prepared men for the redeemer. This is why; we have passages from the OT. The prophet Isaiah is remarkable at this time. He shows us the progressive revelation of God to man. The gradual and progressive revelation correspond an ever increasing longing for man [woman] for the Redeemer. This is expressed in the prayer typical to this period: “drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just; let the earth be opened and bud forth a Saviour”

ii) Advent is a time for repentance- it is time of spiritual renewal, a time of conversion. As John preached penance and conversion to the Jews, we too should heartily repent in the way we do things, being late for Mass, being petty or some things, and simply being there for your husband or wife, being there for your ecclesial community and being sincere to yourself and asking for assistance from a brother or sister. Think of political party members who work hard to get in more members. They insist on fidelity to the party ideals; this is why dissidents are expelled from it, etc.

iii) Advent is a moment to pause and recite the prayer of our Father “Thy kingdom come”. The kingdom of truth and life, of holiness and grace, of justice, love and peace. This should be our deep yearning in each of us in every year. Engage yourself in this season of Advent to read a spiritual book for two hours every day, meditating for 15Min, taking a walk through the gardens, plant a tree, visit the terminally ill in the hospital, don’t wait to be told. Be an example to your family by coming back early at home, talking less in the community, love football less, and of course for the lovers of Latin American soap opera simply be yourself and be loveable anyway.

If you place a frog in a pot of hot water, it will jump right out. But if you put in a pot of cold water that is slowly brought to the boil, the frog will just sit there. Its nervous system is so primitive, it needs a sudden jolt to realise that it is in danger.

It is a moment to wake up, dust ourselves from the past unbecoming habits and allow Jesus enter into our lives once more

“It’s good to hope, it’s the waiting that spoils it”. (Yiddish proverb)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

CHRIST THE KING

Ezekiel 34:11-12. 15-17;
1 Corinthians 15:20-26. 28;
Matthew 25:31-46

DID YOU KNOW THAT YOU ARE A KING/QUEEN?

Our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King. CHRIST THE KING It takes a little while to let the full meaning of these words sink in – Our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King – King of the Universe!

But what a shock the very first words of our celebration! - Words which the Church places on our lips in the Entrance Antiphon: The Lamb who was slain... We may not know much what it means when we talk of a king. We have been too addicted with corrupt leaders, dictators that even mention of the word king sends chilling signals.

So, to call Jesus a King, even a Universal King, is not really a great difficulty for us. It just means that instead of ruling the constituency, he rules the whole government. No problem! And what’s more, the gospel we have just read cooperates obligingly in reinforcing this traditional idea.

Centre stage, just as one would expect, there is ‘the throne of glory’ to which the Son of Man will come ‘in his glory’, escorted, unsurprisingly, by ‘all the angels’. He will take his throne and ‘all the nations’, every single human being ever born, will be assembled before him to be judged. Everything as it should be!

[The language of the Jerusalem Bible translation is wonderfully subtle. The nations will not just assemble, they will be assembled. We get a little bit of that sense of reluctance many will experience in coming before the great King as well as the power of the irresistible decree which commands their presence.

And they will not just be assembled; they will be assembled before him. The sheep belong to the shepherd and now, at long last, they will assume that proper relationship to him which human freedom frequently chose to ignore. And it will be precisely that relationship to the King which will constitute the substance of his judgment.]

But here we are in for another shock, or rather, we are in for the first shock all over again. The King will not pronounce judgment against us because we have failed the hungry, the thirsty, the lonely and the naked; he will pronounce us guilty because we have failed him! Not ‘they were hungry’ but ‘I’ was hungry!

In so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me– not to one of the least of these ‘subjects’ of mine but to the least of these ‘brothers’ of mine - not ‘you did it for me’ but ‘you did it to me’. It’s beginning to look as though we might need to radically rethink our understanding of Christ as Universal King.

It is, of course, the shepherd who calls the lambs and the goats to assemble before him. Jesus is king according to the Davidic model of shepherd-king. The beautiful image from the first reading sets this image firmly in our minds: As a shepherd keeps all his flock in view when he stands up in the middle of his scattered sheep, so shall I keep my sheep in view. Jesus truly is a ‘true shepherd’ to his sheep.

When the wolf approaches what does the true shepherd do? He becomes a sheep! No, more! He becomes a lamb. He draws the wolf to attack him, rather than his sheep, and he becomes ‘the Lamb who was slain’.

Jesus, the Good Shepherd, became one of us and died in our place. In so far as the wolf did this to me, the shepherd, he did it to you – and as I rose from the dead, so did you.

Perhaps now we are a little closer to glimpsing the astonishing identification the shepherd makes with his sheep. If Jesus allowed us to be torn to pieces by the wolf in his flesh and to rise to new life in his resurrection, is it any wonder that he now considers any act of love towards us as love shown to him? In so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.

Jesus Christ is not just Lord, or King, he is our Lord, our King; he leads us from within ourselves; he is truly among us. We have been transformed into him, without ceasing to be ourselves – that is why we must love one another ... because it is the way he has loved us.
Keep that kingship of your baptism and behave in your spiritual life like a king: Walk, Talk, Laugh like a king and queen in your spiritual life.
Have a kingly/queenly Sunday

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

PASTORAL REFLECTION ON THE SACRAMENT OF THE SICK

This subject of Pastoral care for the Sick was able to raise some questions and awareness zeroing in to my people called the Samia of Eastern Uganda and who also extend to Kenya near the Border of Busia (Butula, Port Victoria, Marachi) who are the sub-tribe of the big tribe called the Lughias.
It is apparent that as we enter into high technological world of IT, interest in this topic has grown considerably. Search of religion-based literature more so in this topic of sickness and healing among the Samia of Eastern Uganda and books related to this topic. A cursory review of the available abstracts shows, as one might expect, the articles in the medical literature show a preponderance of scientific studies that are usually single or double blinded, looking at a specific disease entity, such as malaria, Cholera, Ebola, meningitis etc. The religion-based literature has fewer scientific studies and more individual case studies with theological discussions. This paper may be able to arise in us that interest and venture into research and publication of African Traditional Healing and its effect.
People all over the world instinctively ascribe various causes to sickness and ill health. This is in order to give reason and meaning to sicknesses and to find a care for them. The main response to the one sick therefore is to restore and maintain the health of the person both in body and spirit.
Sickness and ill health in Africa
In many African communities, when someone falls sick, the question of who might have caused it is at the back of people’s minds. Usually people attribute sickness and ill health to various social and cultural causes such as the evil eye, breaking taboos, or as a result of a curse from a senior member of the community. This may be due to an effort of the spirits to communicate a message to the living, such as installing a person as a driver, or to seek attention from the living by causing illness in a member of the community. This calls for the performance of rituals which may include sacrifices in order to appease the spirits, while at the same time restoring the health of the affected person.
Serious difficulties and sickness may also trigger in person’s minds that there is some immorality, whether personal or communal, that is the root cause. This leads one to go to divination to find the causes, treatment and prevention. The diviners are like phone operators that can contact various sources whether ancestral, medical, or social to find out where the evil is coming from then prescribe the rituals to remedy it. The herbalist, on the other hand, usually is consulted for curative medicine. The major difference between the diviners and the herbalists are that the former mediates the involvement of the spiritual world in the problems at hand, while the herbalist focuses on herbal remedies. Often the diviner and the herbalist are combined in one and the same person.

Sickness and ill health elsewhere

In Western countries, sickness and ill health is attributed to biological, physiological, and psychological elements. When a person falls physically sick, the belief is that the cause is either bacterial, viral, or a chemical imbalance in the body. Other times an ailment is attributed to body fatigue or depression. When sick, patients will seek diagnosis and prescriptions from Western trained medical practitioners, who prescribe chemical medicines and/or psychotherapy.
Today in Western countries, many people seek alternative therapies such as acupuncture, herbal concoctions, and homeopathic treatment. Many people feel differently when asked of the cause of the problem, what is the feeling the community about the same, is there any remedy/ies that are applied? And what if the problem continues? Are the services of a diviner ever contemplated?
Causes of illness among my people the Samia attribute it to many incidences around them for those in the village and in the rural face different things in their life but their world view is quite separate, either due to educational re-awakening or simply lack of knowledge: witchcraft, germs, viruses, bacteria, malevolent spirits, evil eye, angry ancestors, natural causes, bad weather, infection, poor hygiene, food and water contamination, food poisoning, fungi, microorganisms, a curse, evil people breaking the community’s moral code, felony/wrong doing. Physical causes: negligence of rituals or duties expected of a person by the ancestors, repercussions for bad behaviour, fate, excess acidity, harmful insects, and forces of nature. Psychological problems: stress, uncleanliness: emotional problems: evil tongue, exposure to contagious diseases, someone with a bad intention, strenuous work, as a result of an accident, lack of nutritious food, fatigue, the causes of the problems lies in the biological functions of the body, alteration in the body chemistry, bad omens. This is a mixture of both worlds (traditional/modern). In this paper I have combined both.

Remedy for Illness

My people have resorted to use of herbal medicine, some go to go to hospital, but this is a small percentage especially in the village, the majority consult a diviner, others consult a medical doctor, self medication, consult a herbalist, using Western medicine, resort to pray to God (church on Sunday, Mass Intentions etc), gods (on lake Victoria – Lubale – the god the island, mountains, rocks or specific tress) where sacrifices are offered in case the sickness is suspected to be arising from the spirit world, they get into contact with a specialist to diagnose the problem, there is always an element of consulting a healer, elders are to be consulted if the sickness is as a result of neglecting ritual duties, a ritual is performed, intervention of a church leader filled with the Holy Spirit, taking a prescribed medication, common among the charismatic (town parishes) but ‘hulekuha’ in villages and always done by the elders.
Community’s Interpretation of Sickness
Among the Samia’s there is usually a feeling that someone caused the illness, long and incurable sickness is considered to be the work of a witch, as a result of a curse from a senior member of the community, it also creates a sense that the ancestors are annoyed, it is a punishment for one’s evil deeds, if a disease cannot be treated in hospital then it is declared to be as a result of witchcraft, a repercussion of something the person did, the person or people as a result of wrong doing or as a punishment, due to failure to observe certain rituals and duties in the community, my people strongly believe in this ‘philosophy’, it is a sign that God or ancestors are displeased, as a result of going against the laid down community procedures such as breaking a taboo, the community’s family, as a result of the person having committed a grave sin, the community explanation of the disease depends on a person’s life history and that of his/her family, as result of an evil eye cast by the victim’s enemy, caused by enemies of the sick person, the community thinks that sickness caused by being poisoned by one’s enemy. One is taken to the diviner and one sees all these pieces of bottles, nails being vomited out by the patient then one has not option and has to put reasoning aside to see the African magic at work.

What is done if Illness Persists

My people strongly believe that once the herbal fail to work that is ‘gone case’ who comes in picture? The diviner to find out the cause and possibly a remedy, consult a doctor, prayers are offered to God for healing, those who are Christians, but what comes first is to seek the services of the a herbalist, family members come together to seek help from their ancestors to intervene for them, a major sacrifice ceremony is likely will be held after consulting a diviner, (goat sacrifice, blood libations etc) efforts are made to redress any wrongs, seek God’s mercy, seek more advice from experts, go to the wise people, seek further medical advice, leave matters in God’s hands, higher diviners may be consulted. This calls for deep individual and community self examination, once the eyes focus on an individual as a cause, the consequences are dare and may lead to the violation of human rights, because one has to be sacrificed and usually the innocent are caught in the cross fire.

One’s Perception when Sick

There is always this feeling of sadness and fear that death as being on the way, feel awful and that balance of life has been disturbed, the sick person feels he may have offended someone or something, may have neglected social responsibilities, is a punishment from God, wonder whether one may have wronged someone, there is something wrong with the body system due to a reason that can be proven medically, feel that God has gone far from you, feel that you are under attack from the devil, there is a feeling that life has been interrupted, there is a sense of not being at peace with God, spirits or ancestors.
The idea of bewitchment crosses one’s mind, as a result of a mistake or sin committed, one usually wonders what has caused the disease and why God can’t bring a solution, to first seek the cause of the illness, when sick one takes it as normal unless the doctor is not able to treat it, if the sickness persists despite medication one feels that perhaps there may be another cause.
Among my people think and feel that some bad element is after their life, There is always that feeling of sadness and lowness and the body becoming weak, there that other feeling and thinking that it is normal for human beings to be sick although at times one may ask himself/herself what she/he did to deserve it, there is a feeling that God is not fair to the person, sometimes one feels angry with God if the pain is very severe, there is a feeling of sadness and thoughts that one may not get better, One tries to relate the problem with the present occurrence such as a change in weather, where one is and the nature of work one has been involved in, there is a feeling that certain disease is the cause of being unwell, one feels that sickness as a result of something she/he did not do right.
Christians in Africa encounter the reality of witchcraft in various ways. The interaction between Christianity and witchcraft has been the subject of much pastoral and scholarly discourse…The complex nature of the centripetal relationship has given rise to diverse interpretations of witchcraft which is as old as humanity. This phenomenon is one of the ways through which man or woman attempts to answer some mysterious or difficult questions in life .
However, both medical and religious articles seem to agree this topic is one that currently stimulates both interest and controversy. Several investigators on the medical side are beginning to feel that carefully crafted scientific double-blinded studies will not give us a definitive answer about whether or not prayer works predictably to effect physical healing, but a positive correlation exists. Since prayer is a communication with God, the assumption is God will respond to effect healing or somehow aid the healing process. In this area, the theologians seem to give us better answers than the scientists.
Before we begin to understand what sickness and healing is, the starting point is always to look at the big picture and this may call for thinking bi and out of the box. A human person is seen as a person, who is an adult, initiated into a particular society and what is required of him or her is actualized and witnessed. This could be in a form of killing a lion, marrying and having many wives (polygamous) to prove his leadership qualities, the many wars one has fought. This is a proof to the society that one is man enough to resist these challenges and still be counted upon for advice, expertise, hence being the elder of the elder. (Omusahulu wabasalu).
This can be brought out very clearly in the book “Things Fall apart” by Nigerian Author Chinua Achebe when he writes about the young man called Okwonko who had washed his hands and he was worth to dine with the elders, hence he can partake in the breaking of the cola nut. Why? Because he had worked very hard to overcome the bad impression Okwonko had portrayed in the Umofia village as being a lazy man. Knowing that after a wonderful work here on earth, he would be able to join the ancestors hence making a big clan of the ancestors of the tribe. That is why sacrifices, naming, sacredness is so fully lived to the extent that John Mbithi could say “Africans are notoriously religious.”(African Traditional Religion and Philosophy) This is what makes African cultures wholistic, mysterious to the outsiders and a centre of sacredness, that everything done, there are always rituals, be it in marriage, funerals, birth etc. One is born in it and one finds himself doing it because it is the tradition and customs, it binds one and one has to simply follow without questioning.
In this paper we want to fully dig deeper into this reality of sickness and healing. What usually happens when people are stricken with illness and sickness? How do they heal? Who heals them, what do they use is it herbs or witchcraft? What rituals accompany this healing process? Since we have very many African cultures, this paper will be centered on the Bantu speaking tribe called the Samia people of Busia District- Eastern Uganda.
My people looked at sickness as an expression in the world of the underworld, associated with human power. Someone, somewhere does things that tap the power of the resting ancestors (underground technology) for healing (white magic)or for disaster (black magic). On the horizontal humans (“omundu hu mundu”- person to person/ omulahusi- diviner) while on the vertical axis God (Nasaye/omwibula-‘producer of the producers’). The great healer and provider for the good health. The only thing is that humans cannot fully comprehend how and when he will act or respond and this to an extend creates fear, anxiety more so to those who are sick.
The Samia people whom we call ourselves Abasamia, we always associate sickness to someone, as the saying goes in most African cultures ‘nothing happens without a cause/reason.’ Even knocking your foot on the stone, we will delabour to find out the reason behind that, Maraa eeh! Your neighbour wants you dead or where you are passing is a bad neighbor. This is reasoning in my people, sometimes you just have to understand where we come from, because that is how our world view operates. May be if I was not to become a Catholic priest I would be thinking in the same way. This in its self calls for healing; healing of the self and not many people from such thinking and it will not be easy (Cf. The story of the Plato allegory of the Cave).
There may be temptation of interpreting other tribal cultural beliefs with western tool of research. This paper will use the pastoral theology methodology known as Pastoral Cycle: Insertion, Social analysis, Theological reflection and action plan. It will be based on qualitative research, oral interviews by the Samias who are in this campus both students and staff, emailing, phone calls.
This subject matter has been researched on by many other tribes but this is the first academic work among the Samia people of Busia- Eastern Uganda. We need to know and deeply find out a fully compressive understanding of sickness and healing among my people Abasamia.
Alyward shorter says
“African traditional religion lives on in the minds of the ordinary Africans, jostling with never Christian and Islamic ideas… long-held religious beliefs and values with a related understanding of human relationships, morality, and so on, continue to flourish in the minds of people in Africa.”
This kind of mentality has confronted us with western understanding of the issue at hand of sickness and healing, instead of us having a reverential dialogue we become to reactive and reactionary, and this has failed us to lay our priorities right. Instead of the interlockers, stakeholders meeting to discuss, this has held my people hostages hence my people doing what we feel right and best to their lives. After the debate and philosophy and theology discussion we can listen to them. This debates have left the Samia people in utter poverty of Christianity and not mentioning about the sacrament of anointing of the sick which to them is still in the intensive care unit. (ICU).
Many people, especially my people look at sickness and healing in quite an eye of suspicion and as a sign of ancestors not happy with the tribe or the individual who is sick and as such needs healing. This means that one to be sick will often call for isolation, seclusion, building up anxiety in the sick person, fears, trouble. My people will always ask ‘why did it happen particularly to him or her and this has some connotation of offending the ancestors.’ There is this mentality of associating sickness with a curse among the Samia, if it so happen to be, then a very strong exorcist will be hired for the job of unlocking the portion of death or disaster.
This happenings and unfolding surprisingly also occurred in other tribes and to the amazement of the whites (missionaries) who simply associate this kind as voodoo, witchcraft, ignorance and backwardness. The surprising thing is that if they categorize that in such a narrow minded perspective why are there many who believe in it to date? This is one element which crisscrosses in most cultures.
Sickness among the Samia was looked at from the physical. When one becomes thin during sickness, there is an association of the evil forces at work which are sacking the human blood, spiritually the good spirits has fled and no longer able to stay with evil in the same entity, hence leaving the body a home of the devil who tortures others through the possessed person. That is why sickness like madness was associated with the tool of the evil one to torture other members of the family, clan and tribes. One was not to approach a mad man, it was believed that the devil to recruit its members it went through a mad man. Once a mad man quarrels with you, abuses you or beats you who will be infected with that spirit which haunts you until you eventually become mad.
To heal the mad man had to be tied on the tree in the forest, then a cock is taken to the witch doctor (Omulakusi) who does the ‘African magic’ they leave the man in the cold that he eventually surrenders to the cold, shrinks and broken down and eventually given the herbs to drink to cool the brains, and from the observation the person returns to normalcy. Whatever goes on and the healing is beyond human mind. There are also some incidences where the person may be very far from the area of ‘operation’ but simply the doctor looking in the water in the basin and he is able see the person who has bewitched you or is after you soul and heart. This should be a very good research for pastoral theology with much emphasis on tradition enlightening science.
Healing of the whole in totality has its ultimate agent god and the world of ancestors and spirits, prayers of the libation and thanksgiving, something is done to repair the damage, whether reconciliation with the ancestors or the unlocking of the curse for better life and health. Human relationships are unavoidable part of the situation of sickness and they need to be treated, but they are also an indispensable component of the process of healing.
Every where people begin to search for an experience of God, for the personal awareness of his presence. In our understanding, ancestors are ‘departed’ parents of the family or clan who maintain a relationship and care of the living. They have special capacities because they no longer experience the limitations of human beings. Therefore they are able to meditate between the creator and the living. They are still parents and they are neither divinities nor God, they are never worshipped but venerated many of my people see a priest as the higher than all the ancestors, therefore they only consult.
The communion between the living and the ancestors never ends. It goes on forever. Ancestors are clothed with supernatural powers from the creator. They are capable of protecting the members of their family, clan and community wherever these members are. They have needs like their surviving descendants. It is the responsibility of the living to meet the ancestors’ need. Failure to do so can result in retribution, which could be in a form of sickness or misfortune, enforcing discipline in case of the breaking social values facilitating holistic healing.
When we speak of healing, we also speak of sickness because they are connected. Sickness does not only mean the pains in the body, the malfunctioning of cells in the body. The concept is usually more complex. It refers to an imbalance within the human being, the clan and also within the community, and that needs healing.
Therefore healing is restoring harmony and wholeness in humanity and its relationship: physical, psychological, social, moral, economic, political and spiritual. When disharmony occurs, it is experienced as illness in the community. The causes are multiple: they could be related to ancestral wrath, witchcraft and natural circumstances. In order to restore the disturbed harmony, the Samia consult the ancestors either directly or through the healer, in order to establish the true cause and healing rituals to be performed.
To experience the sacredness, the healer becomes an object that serves as medium of the sacred power. He brings back the spirits of the person who died far away from home. Sacred communion of meals, bring spiritual healing combined with herbs, roots, fruits, tree barks, leaves, vegetables, seeds.

New Testament Perspectives on Prayer and Healing

In the New Testament, it is Jesus Christ who manifests God’s power of divine healing and commissions his disciples with the authority to heal by prayer and to cast out demons. Jesus parabolically twice refers to himself as a physician. In Mark 2:17 when the Pharisees ask his disciples why he eats with tax collectors and sinners, Jesus replies “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous, but sinners.” In Luke 4:16-30 he responds to the doubters in the Nazareth synagogue, “Doubtless you will quote me this proverb, ‘Doctor, cure yourself!’Part of Jesus’ mission and a major part of his work as the messiah was restoring health and wholeness to his people:
When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, "Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?" Jesus answered them, "Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me." (Matthew 12:2-6)
After Pentecost, the apostles and disciples continue to proclaim the gospel. Healings continue along with casting out demons. One of the most frequently quoted texts regarding prayers for healing is James 5:13-16:
Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective (emphasis mine).
Also, tightly woven with this topic of prayer for healing is the need for community confession and mutual forgiveness. For Jesus, forgiveness of sins and healing often went hand in hand, for he had the authority to do both. For example, in Mark 2:3-12, when the paralytic is let down through a hole in the roof, Jesus first pronounces to the crowd that his sins are forgiven. Then, in order to show the murmuring scribes that he has authority on earth to forgive sins, he heals the man!
James implies that sometimes sin is a cause of illness, as well as a hindrance to healing. Sin and sickness went hand in hand in the ancient mind. The confession of sin was then evidently necessary if healing was to occur. James [may be] requiring that confession becomes a repeated action. The practice of public confession was important to Judaism and the early church.
James promises that “the prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects (5:16).” It does indeed. Sometimes its effect is to change our circumstances, and a sick person is dramatically healed (the Elijah model). Sometimes its effect in to change our characters and we persevere and trust the sovereignty of God (the Job model). Sometimes its effect is to change our priorities, and we rest in the assurance that “my flesh and my heart may fail but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Ps. 73:26, the psalmist model).
God wants us all to be in right relationship with Him. Sin and illness impair that relationship, for He would have us worship Him in wholeness and in health. When we are ill, we are to seek repentance, ask forgiveness for a restoration of health and right relationship with God. We are to ask others of our faith community to pray with and for us. Then, if the illness is serious, we are to seek the help of a physician, who will pray to the Lord that He will grant them success in diagnosis and treatment, for they are part of God’s plan for healing and God has given to them the knowledge and gifts of the healing arts. This art of writing this paper for class presentation is itself a Research which is the highest form of adoration.

Treatment outcomes when the physician or healer prays

As a priest I should start praying with the patients in the pastoral visitations and calls, taking their spiritual histories as part of their normal initial history and physical. Gradually, by word-of-mouth, the patients will let their friends know that a priest was here was a doctor. He did not offer to pray for or with his patients, however, until one forced it out into the open, stating "I came to you because you’re a Christian doctor. I would like you to pray with me”.

PASTORAL ACTION

Pastoral care of the sick and the suffering is not limited to anointing or giving them viaticum. It includes even the needs the sick have, the needs the family have plus other services. The work of caring for the sick is not only limited to the priests but all people of God. Jesus Christ is the doctor of life, a great healer, the doctor of doctors (cf Ezekiel 34:11-16). In the messianic activity, in the ministry of Israel Christ went around doing good Act 10:38. Jesus Christ was sensitive to all human suffering. Sickness brings a crisis for the sufferer and the relatives. As pastors we should know the types of sickness disturbing our people. It is with this that a pastor may try to fight against the advancement of sickness. We should make use of the community in helping in the ministry of caring for the sick. The sick would like to see that s/he is attended to in time, given assistance (material and spiritual), talked to our voices to the sick are very powerful, it brings consultation. But this should make the carers of the sick to be careful with the patients suffering from contagious diseases. If possible use an instrument for anointing.
Catechists and wives should be given opportunity for annual retreats. The catechist should know how to send the information to the parish priests. He should know to prepare the place of the sick person, e.g to see that a table is available, a candle or lamp etc. How to receive the pastors on arrival e.g. reverence to the Blessed Sacrament should be kept in mind. Should know to prepare somebody before she or he dies and also the people. The mourning shouting and confusion shouldn’t come with someone’s death. One should not necessary need to make noise in order to be heard.
There should be pastoral care for the parents and relatives to come to terms with the reality and will of God and not resort to witch hunting or curses or to waste time to know who killed the deceased. People should not keep themselves in dangerous situations, as in sinful ways like retaliating back or looking for the cause of death.
Reciting the prayers and calling on for God’s forgiveness and making an act of contrite
A sick person who is far from a priest can say an act of contrition hence good catechesis.
As priests we should prepare ourselves for our end since getting the sacrament of the sick at our time may be hard and difficult. We help others into the other world it is also opportunity for us to be ready by asking for the anointing of the sick whenever we are seriously sick so as to give meaning to the sacrament.
Sick calls: when called it is good not to waste much time. But know first the sick person’s situation as it will help you when you go there: is he or she Christian, married, is she/he a child, youth etc.
Pray for a good journey when going, have some money when going. When the priest reaches, reads the signs that the patient is passing away, shorten the Rite of Celebration.
Oils for anointing:
- it is advisable to take along the oils of anointing whenever you go for safari.
- Keep the oil as near as possible in the house, in a ready handbag
- If there is possibility of getting first Aid box, do have it.
- Know some experts in medicine.
When we visit the sick:
- Console them
- Encourage them
- Pray
- Help the people to lead practical signs from the patients, patients expect to receive charitable services.
- Help those who are able not to overcharge the members of the sick because they are in problems.
The aged:
- Also need People who approach suffering with a merely human attitude of mind cannot understand what it means and can easily collapse in defeat. We as Christians, however being instructed in the Faith, know that suffering can be transformed. If we offer it to God into the instrument of salvation and into a sacred way which helps us get to heaven.
For Christians pain is no reason for gloominess but for joy, the joy of knowing that on the cross of Christ all suffering has redemptive value. Treatment outcomes when the patient's faith community prays for the patient. Treatment outcomes when a faith community who does not know the patient prays

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