Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Pious Union of Saint Joseph

On the solemnity of Saint Joseph this week, I "found" this organization that is a confraternity of priests, religious and the laity who pray for the sick and dying each day. Saint Joseph's feast day was a particularly difficult day at the nursing home. One of my patients was an elderly man in the end stages of dementia who was starting to actively die. Unfortunately his wife was very upset by the process and basically nagged me repeatedly to "hurry it up." First, it was: "just stop all his meds." Then it was: "please , please take off his oxygen, then it finally was, "can't you just give him more morphine now?"  The patient was completely comfortable with no signs of distress and was not suffering as best as I could tell. My heart was truly saddened as I tried to explain the process of dying and the indications for morphine and the physician's Hippocratic Oath that made me promise to not hasten a person's death.  Finally, I told her that this day was the feast of Saint Joseph, the patron saint of a happy death and I tried to comfort her by explaining that God was with her husband and through the prayers of Saint Joseph, he would take him to heaven shortly. (most likely requiring a purging first, which I didn't mention )
  My next patient was a not-so-elderly man suffering from metastatic liver cancer with a lung full of fluid with severe pain, weakness and shortness of breath. At this point, there is very little I can do except for pain control so I basically just sat and listened to him for a long time. He told me he had made his peace with God, but wondered why he had to suffer so. He was of the Jewish faith so I shared a bit about Job and tried my best to encourage him. I told him I would remember him in my prayers that evening and I left the room with him thanking me for talking with him.
  I went home that night burdened with the thought of how I can help these people even more than I already am. Because of medicare rules, they are not yet eligible for hospice, so they can't get the social and pastoral support they and their families really need, until they run out of medicare nursing days, and by that time they have already expired. (Actually, they can get hospice nurses but they would lose their medicare payment for the nursing home stay which is 499 dollars a day, and the family would have to pay!)
We do have three Catholic Churches nearby but the priests are already working as hard as they can and can't drop everything to get to my facility, though they often try.
   I was perusing the web when I got home and found the link above to the Pious Union of Saint Joseph. The sole purpose is to join with others to pray daily for the sick and the dying who will enter eternity that day. All you have to do to join the confraternity is to commit to praying this prayer daily:

"O St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus Christ and true spouse of the Virgin Mary, pray for us and for the suffering and dying of today."

I realized this is something I can do and I have joined the Pious Union of Saint Joseph to daily pray for the sick and dying. In general, I usually do pray daily as I walk into the nursing home but this will be a great help as I know the prayers of Saint Joseph are powerful and specific to this situation that I daily find myself in. Why not pray about joining yourself? The world is in need of prayers for those who no one is praying for and Christ has given us the precious Communion of Saints for just such a purpose.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I write this on the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday, I know the Lord is smiling on you for all your works of mercy. I, too, have just joined the Pious Union of St. Joseph. Most assuredly, St. Joseph will hear your prayers and send the help you pray for. May the suffering and dying, and the Holy Souls in Purgatory be granted contented rest, for the joy of their souls, in heaven with the Lord and all the angels and saints.
God bless you.

April 14, 2012 11:38 AM  
Blogger Russ Rentler, M.D. said...

thanks so much! God bless you too!

April 14, 2012 1:38 PM  

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