It is, for me, a very special blessing to be a Chaplain to the sick, the poor, the suffering, the terminally ill, the dying, patients with cancer, heart problems, AIDS, paraplegics and the like, and this includes being with their loved ones – their family, friends, relatives. I also minister to the medical staff: doctors, nurses, and LVNs, and employees of the hospital. How awesome it is indeed to be able to stand by their side on the threshold of what, perhaps, is the most important moment of their life and to be personally invited to help them through their illness and most especially to help prepare them in their final moments as they await to meet and see for the first time their God “face to face,” to behold the Beatific Vision. To be able to identify with family members and help bear the burden of pain, death, loss, grief, bereavement, is also an indescribable grace.
Every day I am blessed to see… and experience God’s humanity in the faces of the young, the middle-aged, the elderly – the frailty of their humanity in their pain and suffering, and paradoxically, I am equally blessed to experience God’s divinity – His divine reality as I catch a glimpse, a glimmer of His goodness, beauty, and truth in the patient’s unshakeable Faith, their absolute trust in Hope and their grateful Love as they let go in total surrender to God’s will and plan for their life.
To be able to minister in the way Jesus ministered is both a blessing and a gift, a very unique honor. It is something very simple, yet something very, very awesome. To realize deeply that in a very real way I am touching the suffering Jesus in His pain, and in His brokenness, and that in so doing, I also touch Eternity in a way that is most unique and real. What a gift, a blessing and an honor indeed! To pain with, and to joy with them is a pure gift because while I am aware that “I am Jesus” for them and I bring Jesus to them, at the same time, and equally true, or more true, they are also “Jesus for me.” How often I have been ministered to by them, for I, too am a wounded healer. I, also, am a broken vessel and in need of ongoing healing. …
As I continue to minister each day, from my own weakness as well as my strengths, my model is Mary, Mother of God, and my Mother too. She who is Daughter of the Father, Mother of the Son and Spouse of the Holy Spirit is Mater et Magistra, my Mother and my Teacher. She has taught me everything I know in this ministry, especially through her “Yes,” her Magnificat and “Do whatever He tells you.” She it is who stands by my side daily as I listen each day to His Word for me, and His voice echoes and re-echoes in my heart as I hear Him say anew, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of these least ones of mine, you did it to me.”
To be Chaplain, to be a “servant-pastoral minister” is to learn how to be like Jesus, to be able “to do the right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with God.” It is to be like the Good Shepherd… to be ever ready to seek out His sheep, and to be so willing to lay down my life as He did. “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (Jn. 15:13)