Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Demystifying Science

In the resent news mechanical science has shown us another wonderful sight; the fulfillment of a great curiosity, the bright face of Pluto.

Truly a great marvel, and a great achievement; and I, like everyone else, have enjoyed the view.

However, every once in a while we need to demystify the physical/empirical sciences. While we often look to them as great harbingers of objective truth, a good portion of it is all in the presentation.

Let’s face it; we all got excited over a very big rock (or very small, according to your perspective) circling around a great big fire ball. Empty, lifeless.

I love watching all these Discovery channel presentations about the universe with all these high tech CGI animations and cool sound effects with the voice of Neil deGrasse or Steven Hawkings in the background. It’s all very entertaining; transporting you to another world. Every once in a while, though, you just have to step back and realize, “Nice presentation, but it’s all a bunch of lifeless objects floating around in the vast tracks of silent nothingness.” 

In a way, it's all sort of a new astrology, giving lifeless objects charismatic powers.

Man, I just threw cold water on everything; death to discovery and wonder! No, that’s not where I want that reflection to go. What I do want to point out is that Pluto (or any of these objects) has no mystical quality in itself. What is truly magical is the encounter between the object and the knower (Us!). What is the point of the whole of creation if it is not known? Is it not more about us than about Pluto?

The knower, conscious life. Recently there was a story of a certain Seth Farlane dedicating 100 million to discover intelligent life on another planet. It’s all good fun; that would be a really cool day when we discover this life from another planet. Hollywood has been giving us this dream, and this night mare, ever since “War of the Worlds.” However, we are all so eager to meet this new life from another planet, but not the guy from the other side of the border. We’re all hoping that this new life from another planet will give us this incredible technology that will “save us,” but we are in dread of the new life coming from the womb because of “over population.” Strange, new creatures already exist here on this planet’s surface but, like the story of Genesis, “he gave them all names but none of them proved to be a suitable partner.”

What does it matter if a man gained the whole universe but lost its very soul?

We far too easily surrender to the empirical sciences more authority than they actually have.

When a pen leaves my desk it falls to the ground. The standard response to “Why does a pen fall to the ground?” is the word “Gravity.” Seemingly, by this great word, Newton enlightened us all. Awe, yes, gravity! Gravity, however, is just a word to describe a phenomenon. Newton measured the phenomenon and the conditions necessary for it to happen, but he did not tell us why it happens. Material science can never tell us why things happen, but we often lose track of that. It comes up with strange mystical names like “Quarks,” “Radium,” “Plasma,” all to describe different bits of moving stuff. Material sciences can only describe and measure what is already.

While it is wonderful to behold science as it gives us new gadgets, light shows, and pain killers; science often has the effect of a blender on our experience of reality; reducing everything to ever increasingly smaller pits of stuff. This is because the nature of matter is to be divisible; always in search of another smaller particle to tell us “why?” Instead of simply admiring and knowing the beauty of the apple we stick it in the blender in order to “really” get to know it and we end up with mush.

“Belatedly I loved thee, O Beauty so ancient and so new, belatedly I loved thee. For see, thou wast within and I was without, and I sought thee out there. Unlovely, I rushed heedlessly among the lovely things thou hast made. Thou wast with me, but I was not with thee.Augustine 

In the absolutism of science we have so often been so enamored by shiny things and big words that we have reduced the entire human experience to impulses, chemicals, and electrical wiring. What will it matter if we find life out there if the life down here is nothing more than a blob of tissue. While so engrossed in the stars above we have so easily forgotten the interior work of virtue, worship, and community. The stars up there are truly empty if the life down here means nothing. 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Virtue & Communicating Well

There are many ways to talk about virtues. Classically they have been referred to as habits that dispose us toward goodness. Others have referred to them as the “Golden Mean” and still others, “The Golden Rule;” “Do unto others what you would do to yourself.”

Recently, though, I have been reflecting on how the virtuous life is the capacity to communicate well; to create dialogue.

Everything we do has meaning, communicates something. What I wear, say, do, or don’t do says something to the people around me. Every act of communication involves a relationship between the person speaking and the individuals to whom I am speaking. I may have something very important to say; but unless I show deference to the greater community they will never receive it; it will get lost in translation.

Take for example the virtue of modesty. What we wear communicates something. What it communicates is determined by the culture, but it always communicates something. By immodesty I use the powerful allure of sex to manipulate and by modesty I respect the vulnerability of others.

Another good example is bad language. Bad language is an immature way of expressing our emotions, thoughts, and feelings. It reflects the fact that we haven’t learned how to communicate our thoughts with respect to others.

By prudence I judge when and how to express myself; by humility I always express myself from a place of truth; in Charity give ourselves, express ourselves; by patience we have perseverance in expressing our message without

being distracted by frustration; and the list could go on.

The opposite of communicating in a virtuous way is manipulation. The temptation in our life is always to use manipulation: power, money, coercion, sex, violence, force, fear, etc. . . . to get what I want. The message is always; “this is what gets results; this is the only way to get what we need.” Necessities; always necessities; you are just a slave of impulses and needs, stop trying to be something more. The only truth is power and dependency.

Learning to communicate well is a very fine art; and even the best of us can wonder away from it. We often see this in adolescents who are still learning how to express themselves. They may tattoo their whole face, dress immodestly, use bad words, act out in strange ways. They want to “express themselves,” “be themselves,” “have no limits.” The immaturity in this is that, while they are making a lot of noise and getting a lot of attention, they are not communicating their message very well. A man who shows up at a business interview with nose piercings and a mohawk has put barriers between himself and the greater community; he will probably make his employer uncomfortable. This is because in order to communicate well we have to be aware and show deference to how others will receive our actions, how it will be interpreted. Antisocial activity is based on a false notion that culture and community is the enemy of my individualism; that in order to “be myself,” I must be contrary to them. This puts us at war with ourselves and in perpetual frustration because there is never a space where there is an “us without them.”
Therefore, Christian life is about becoming a master of communicating well. Like mastering the art of walking, we are called to move beyond the unbalanced mobility of a toddler to the exceptional art of an acrobat on a tight rope. In our promise to “Reject sin,” “and all its empty promises,” Christians promise to strive always for the heights of virtue; never to be satisfied with just “getting by.”  

It is always a path of discernment. When to speak boldly, when to be quiet, when to act in defense, when to turn the other cheek? Even the best of Christians can error in this regard out of good intentions. Constantly we are called back to the Gospel and to an examination of conscience in our continual growth to be better channels of the message of God’s love.

In the art communicating well there are many things to keep in mind. Here are some to consider.

“Know yourself.” Know your fears, know your biases, know your habits. To be humble is to live in the truth; to acknowledge the truth about ourselves and about others. To acknowledge both our strengths and our weaknesses; to move away from fear of our true self. Humility is not about belittling ourselves or never raising our voice but about realizing that we do have a voice and that this voice still has value even if it is not heard. As we continue to grow in our self-knowledge we also notice that there are many motives for our actions; some that are lofty and some that are base. Humility helps us to accept this reality, reaffirming our desire to act out of sincere motives and ask forgiveness for our less than perfect motives.

Create space for the other. St. Francis is said to have gone out and preached to the birds; which has always been a striking example for me of what it takes to be a nonthreatening presence. Anyone who has ever tried to get a bird to eat out of their hand knows the degree of silence, gentleness, and patience that is required. The Christian needs a heightened capacity to empathize, listen, share, and reflect back to the other. It means they must grow in there comfort with rejection; their capacity to forgive, to welcome back, to respect the sanctuary of the conscience. It is a call to be experts at hospitality.

No one desires evil. It is impossible for anyone to desire evil. Evil is disorder, a disordering of goods, a break in the proper ordering of values. For example, a thief desires money (and with it security, prosperity, and the power that comes with it). These are very noble goods, things that I would want the thief to have; but the thief obtained these goods without regarding the value of human life when he killed the store clerk. In the same way; in any disagreement both sides are seeking to safe guard certain values, goods. A person who is pro-choice is seeking to safe guard the value of a woman’s autonomy, independence, freedom, well-being, etc. These are beautiful values, ones that I am bound in conscience not only to protect but also to be an advocate for. The problem is not in what is desired but the solution that is proposed; which do not properly respect the life of the unborn child. Seen in this way, a mature dialogue is about discoursing about the proper hierarchy of values and that none of the values can be discarded without everything tumbling down. Each side must ask each other, “What keeps you up at night?” “What are you passionate about?” “What are your fears, your worries?” “What are legitimate ways of safe guarding all of these beautiful realities?”

The Socratic method. Socrates, the ancient Greek Philosopher, spoke of himself as a “midwife,” that is, his purpose was to aid the inquirer in bringing forth a conclusion. He did this by asking questions of the other so that together they could “give birth” to the ideal. Socrates’ method is a hard art to master, requiring discipline and maturity among the participants. However, it can be another tool in creating a non-threatening space.

A spirit of self-denial and discipline; self-control. In order to have a mature dialogue both parties must cultivate basic human virtues such as order, discipline, good manners, generosity, honesty, education, detachment from material things, etc. . . Without these things everything turns into a power struggle.

The use of force. In our imperfect world the use of force in legitimate defense of something valuable is sometimes necessary, but its use marks a failure of the whole human community. That somehow along the way virtue failed. Here I am not only speaking about force of arms, but also the force of law, the force of discipline, anything that is simply given as an imposition. Too many times Christians have easily adopted the story of Jesus turning over the tax collectors tables as a call to “stand up for what is right;” but have easily forgotten the warning “Whoever uses the sword dies by the sword,” and the exhortation, “turn the other cheek.” Society needs just laws, children need discipline, we need coaches who will get in our face every once in while so that we can discover our true potential; but such things can become a crutch for authentic Christian witness. We can’t simply impose on people Christian virtue without an authentic witness of its beauty; we can’t simply rely on the force of law to do our work. Anything simply built on “because I said so” will not last.



Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Altar Girls and Similar Themes

When I was a kid I remember being so disturbed by the introduction of female altar servers that I vocally expressed my dissent to the program director with tears and a refusal to be an altar server if girls were allowed to serve. Yes, I was quite the 4th grade zealot; sincere in my fidelity but lacking in understanding. All I knew is that my parents had told me that female altar servers were against Church teaching and that was enough for me.

Every once in a while I will run into this same attitude toward female altar servers; an attitude I passionately shared, and realize where I was at and where I am now. How eagerly we defended that bulwark. While easily criticized as misogyny, a word that merely casts conservatives as haters; the real root for our passion was our fear concerning independent, undiscerned, change that was happening in the Church, especially in the post conciliar time. We weren't afraid of women but skeptical of change; which is always hard because it places in doubt identity. The work of distinguishing between what is essential and what is extraneous is hard work and we can easily either dismiss what is essential or over rate what is extraneous.

The Church has reaffirmed over and over again that the ordained man is a sacramental sign. The one who stands at table and breaks bread in the memory of Christ must be a man, as Christ was a man. It’s neither a hateful or hurtful statement. The presbyter takes the place of Christ in a unique way in the complete sacramental sign of the man offering bread and wine. The priesthood is therefore not a series of duties to be performed (like the protestant vision of a minister) but a sign in himself (just as motherhood cannot be reduced to a series of tasks to be performed). The Church can no more ordain women than it can use milk for baptism. Yes, it’s that important.

However, just because the masculinity of the minister is essential to the sacramental sign; it doesn't necessarily mean that all aspects that are traditionally assigned to the priest must only be fulfilled by a man. While the fundamental seven sacramental signs are continuous; the context of their celebration has not always been the same, as anyone who has studied liturgy would know.

This, however, should not be interpreted a liturgical relativism. Determining how to celebrate the liturgy is a discernment process, an integrated process. It means being in communion with the entire tradition of liturgy and the mind of the Church; not simply creating something carte blanche.

In this discernment process the Church has seen that the restriction concerning woman altar servers, lectors, and extraordinary ministers was not essential to the celebration. Woman ministers were present in the early liturgies and the Church (Deaconesses, Eucharistic Ministers, etc) and it is right to see these past impediments as cultural strictures.

As this process of change progresses I would be in favor of greater female presence in Church councils and parish leadership; a process that is already happening. Just because the priest is a sacramental sign does not mean that participation in the discernment and defense of the deposit of Faith is a strictly male prerogative. 

In terms of Altar Servers; I think it’s important to realize that they never were “Acolytes” according to the ranking of the minor orders. They are not a preparatory stage for Holy Orders. In reality they are more closely related to the designation of choir members since their primary duty is to respond to the priest. This is why they wear choir robes (Cassock and surplice). They are respondents, singers, assistants. They stood in the place of the community who either could not hear or understand the priest during the Pre-Vatican II liturgy.

Thus, I am a supporter of woman altar servers. I think the more we cling to what is nonessential the more we undermine our credibility when it comes to what is essential. I think that girl altar servers should be encouraged and supported. That being said; there are somethings that I would like to see in the altar server programs in general.

First, I think altar server programs should be demanding and truly formative. Nothing is more uninspiring for a child than a program with low expectations. The more we give them real responsibilities and the formation necessary to fulfill their tasks the more they will take ownership of their identity.

Second, I am generally not in favor of this move to avoid the hassle of child altar servers and replace them with adults. This is simply priests and liturgists being lazy. Altar servers are generally the cream of the crop in terms of the youth and thus there is a golden opportunity to do some in depth formation with children who are invested (an opportunity often underutilized).

Third, while I support female altar servers; I think that some single sex formation has advantages. I don’t know if all the formation needs to be separated, but it does seem advantageous if some of the formation and activities are directed toward one or the other gender. I think it is also good for us to incorporate more female leadership in the altar server program. I also am not opposed to women servers wearing different vestments from their male counterparts; either a different vestment altogether, or a different style of tailoring.

Finally, clergy and religious should be more involved in their formation. Invite the group to the rectory for dinner, go camping, participate in their formation, etc... Altar servers should visit houses of religious formation and be involved in works of ministry. They should be familiar with the life of priests and religious.

In conclusion, I can truly understand the passion with which some have opposed girl altar servers, and the reasons that they have given. In the end it simply not as counter traditional as we have often made it out to be. The Church has blessed it and I think the more we embrace it the more we will be able to give it a wholesome expression instead of treating it as a tolerated rebellion. 



Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Christian Rites for the Dying and Deceased- How to Celebrate these Rites Mindfully

The sickness or passing of a loved one is always a challenging time. Part of the challenge is often the question, “what do I need to do now?” which can be applied to many different things such as medical care, funeral arrangements, dividing up property, etc... In like manner, it can also apply to the Christian rites for the sick and the dying.  Often times we are not familiar with the rites, we may even have never seen them administered; so all sorts to questions may come to mind.  “Is there anything I need to do?” “How do I help the priest?” “What should I consider?” In light of this reality, here are some helpful guidelines for understanding the rites for the sick and the deceased which hopefully can help everyone be at peace and enable you to be an active participant.

First rule, pray! “Peace be with you” is how the Rite for the Anointing of the sick begins. Be present, be at peace. The first priority is prayer; all the other details that I will outline here are secondary. They are not meant to be a burden but a means to focus on what is essential. Seek prayer; we’ll guide you through the rest.

There are several Rites for the sick, the Dying, and the Deceased. Knowing the rites and how they are used is the first step to becoming an active participant. Here is a list with a short description.

The Anointing of the Sick: This sacrament is available to any Catholic who is gravely ill. It can be received more than once, but it does not need to be administered more than once during the normal progression of an illness. An exception to this is if the sickness is chronic or lingering for a really long time or if it turns dramatically towards death, in which case it can be administered again. This sacrament involves the laying on of hands over the individuals head and the anointing of the head and hands with oil.

Confession: While obviously not exclusively for the sick and dying; the sacrament of Confession is part of the full grace of renewal available in the Sacrament of Anointing and anyone who seeks out the Anointing of the Sick should ask for confession either before or during the rite of anointing.

The Apostolic Pardon: This pardon is given when death is imminent. It is an absolution for all sins that the individual is sorry for and a remittance of any penances that apply.

The Renewal of Baptismal Promises: If the person is near death and conscious the priest will lead them in the renewal of Baptismal promises; a reaffirmation of their faith in God and the Christian hope.

Viaticum: The last reception of Holy Communion. This reception of Holy Communion is prefaced by a unique preamble for the occasion. It obviously cannot be given to those who cannot swallow or who are unconscious.

The Commendation for the Dying: This not so well known prayer is one that can be said by the laity as death approaches with a special rite for when the individual actually passes. Sometimes a priest or deacon will use this rite if the Anointing has already been given previously. It is a beautiful way to accompany the dying and mark the time of death. The text is provided at the end of this post.

Prayers and Blessings for the Deceased: If death comes suddenly before these special rites can be received there are prayers and blessings for the dead. If a body is to be cremated it is appropriate to have is blessed and honored before the cremation.

The Vigil: also sometime referred to as the wake; it is a time of prayer and visitation the night before the Funeral. A short liturgy, or prayer service, is often held during the vigil and is often accompanied by the recitation of the Rosary. This can also be a time for eulogies and sharing.

The Funeral: A Mass is celebrated to honor the dead with a procession and blessing of the body or ashes. There is a funeral rite without the celebration of Mass; but this is only used for extraordinary circumstances.

The Rite of Committal: (The grave side service) This is the rite of blessing the place of rest and placing the body or ashes in their place of repose.

As you can see, this is a multicourse banquet of love and celebration for this unique time of life. It is meant to create a space for celebration and hopefully by understanding the process you can enter into it and swim with the current instead feeling it imposed upon you from outside. Here are some more helpful guidelines by which you can get into the spirit of it all.
The Rites for the Sick are designed for the conscious. The blessing, love, and grace of the Anointing for the Sick are efficacious for anyone who is gravely ill, including those who are unconscious or mentally impaired. Do not hesitate to call the priest when death is approaching; even if they are not fully aware. However, the fullness of the rite is intended to help the individual and the family before they loose awareness. The Sacraments for the dying include Confession, The last reception of Holy Communion, and the renewal of Baptismal promises; all of which can only be provided to an individual who is conscious and who can swallow. Often time’s families wait till they are almost certain that the individual will die before they call a priest; which often removes the opportunity for the Church to embrace them with all these beautiful affirmations of love and rededication. Thus, while not always possible, it is best to look into obtaining the sacraments before the patient looses consciousness.
The Sacrament of the Anointing of The Sick is available for those who are gravely ill. It is not meant simply for the dying.  While what gravely ill means is a grey area that the priest discerns with the individual; it’s generally not given to someone with a broken arm or a head cold. This ties in well with the preceding point in that one should seek out the sacraments when you know that you or an individual has been stricken with a grave illness. This also applies to risky surgical procedures. This often creates the opportunity to receive all the sacraments at the Church itself and not in the hospital room.

You can always ask for the Sacrament again. You don’t have to get the timing for the sacraments “just right.” If an individual makes a recovery and then gets ill again, or the same illness goes from bad to worse (a dramatic change of condition), then the priest can be called in again to administer the sacraments. That being said, it is important not to abuse the priest or the sacraments. Once it has been administered it does not need to keep being administered for every turn of events. 
  Let the priest know the details. When calling a priest let him know how critical the situation is, whether or not the patient is conscious, mentally impaired, or able to swallow. This will let the priest know what he will need to bring and what priority he should give to the situation.

The Sacraments are not meant only for the infirm but also for family and community. Try to organize a time for the priest to come out when the greatest number of family and friends can be gathered. If nothing else, at least one other person should be present. While the sacraments can be administered without anyone else present; they were not designed for that purpose and it’s always a little awkward.

 Prepare a table. In the hospitals there are normally the bedside tables that work well. If at home you might be able to set up a table near the individual. If nothing else, make sure that it is cleared off.  You can also set up a nice cloth over it with a cross. Candles are also a nice addition (although not permitted in hospitals) with maybe some flowers. You can also provide Holy Water for the priest as well. The priest will be placing the oils and other items on the table.

Singing is allowed. Not that you have to, but singing is one way that some people find helpful in casting out the darkness. Liturgy can include singing and you might ask the priest if it’s Ok to sing a faith song in the liturgy.

A word about cremation. In the early Church cremation was often used by pagans as a sign against the Resurrection; and some religions use it to express reincarnation, the dissipation of the self into a universal spirit. Because of this, cremation as a form of handling the body was forbidden unless in extreme circumstances (disasters). This restriction has been lifted, and the force of economics is making it a popular way to go. This is all good, the only thing that the Church asks is that the remains be interned in a permanent place of rest (not scattered over the sea and hills or left on a mantle). What follows is my own reflection on the best way, within the context of the Christian tradition, to show respect to the body in a situation when there is a cremation. First, I think it is good to have a funeral with the body present. It doesn't need to be in a coffin (since they are expensive), but it might be carried in on a litter, placed on a table, and draped in a pawl. After the vigil and Mass it can be taken back to the funeral home and cremated. Once it is cremated it can be placed in the place of rest with a committal service. If this is not feasible, you might have a vigil with the body at the nursing home followed by a blessing of the body, the cremation, and then a funeral Mass with a committal of the ashes. If nothing else, a simple blessing of the body at the funeral home before cremation is also a great way to celebrate this important transition. Whichever way you go about it, I think it would be a shame to pass up the full pageantry of the funeral rites simply because there is a desire for cremation. I also think that the funeral liturgy with the body is an important opportunity for us all to encounter death in a direct way; an encounter that is rich in spiritual meaning, as well as an opportunity to say farewell to the deceased.

You don’t have to do everything according to the prepackaged program. In this matter I speak primarily of the standard set up provided by the funeral home. It’s a good set up; and the funeral homes know there business, but you don’t necessarily have to follow what is laid out. For example, some people like to wash the body of the deceased as a family event, some people don’t want a coffin, and some people like to see the body buried in the ground (instead of leaving it so that someone else can do it later). There are many creative ways that we might want to honor the dead, but sometimes we just presume that they are not permitted.

Eulogies: the Mass is not the proper context to give a Eulogy for the deceased; but there are other places where it can fit in beautifully. For example, the Vigil the night before, after the Committal (grave side) service, and even at the party after the event. All of these are great places for toasts, eulogies, and sharing stories (which is to be greatly encouraged); but the Mass is not the place for eulogies. This also applies to special, personal, non-liturgical musical pieces and videos.

What has been your experience of the last rites? What council would you share?

(Below I have included the text for the Anointing of the Sick and the Commendation of the dying for anyone to print out for such an occasion)

The priest greets the sick person and the others present.
- Peace be with you (this house) and with all who live here R. And with your spirit.
If Communion as Viaticum is celebrated during the rite, the priest then places the Blessed Sacrament on a table, and all join in adoration.
The Priest may sprinkle those present with holy water.
- Let this water call to mind our baptism into Christ, who by his death and resurrection has redeemed us.  
The priest may use the following instruction, or one better adapted to the sick person’s condition:
- My dear friends, we are gathered here in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ who is present among us. As the gospels relate, the sick came to him for healing; moreover, he loves us so much that he died for our sake. Through the apostle James, he has commanded us: “Are there any who are sick among you? Let them send for the priests of the Church, and let the priests pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick persons, and the Lord will raise them up; and if they have committed any sins, their sins will be forgiven them.” Let us therefore commend our sick brother/sister N. to the grace and power of Christ, that he may save him/her and raise him/her up.
If the sick person so wishes, the sacrament of penance is celebrated; If there is no celebration of the sacrament of penance, the penitential rite takes place as usual.
- My brothers and sisters, to prepare ourselves for this celebration, let us call to mind our sins.
A All say: I confess to almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned, in my thoughts and in my words,in what I have done and in what I have failed to do, (And, striking their breast, they say) through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault; therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin, all the Angels and Saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.
The priest concludes the penitential rite with the following:
May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and being us to everlasting life.  R. Amen.
 ( For the Dieing) APOSTOLIC PARDON
At the conclusion of the sacrament of penance or the penitential rite, the priest may give the apostolic pardon for the dying
Through the holy mysteries of our redemption, may almighty God release you from all punishments in this life and in the life to come. May he open to you the gates of paradise and welcome you to everlasting joy. R. Amen.
If the condition of the sick person permits, the baptismal profession of faith follows.
- N., do you believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth? R. I do.
- Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary was crucified, died, and was buried, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven and is now seated at the right hand of the Father? R. I do.
- Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting? R. I do.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew 11:25-30
On one occasion Jesus spoke thus: “Father, Lord of heaven and earth, to you I offer praise; for what you have hidden from the learned and the clever you have revealed to the merest children. Father, it is true. You have graciously willed it so. Everything has been given over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Father but the Son- and anyone to whom the son wishes to reveal him. “Come to me, all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you. Take my yoke upon your shoulders and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart. Your souls will find rest, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
- Let us pray, dear friends, for our brother/sister N., whom the Lord at this hour is refreshing with the sacraments.
- That the Lord may look on our brother/sister and see in him/her the face of his own suffering Son, we pray: R. Lord, hear our prayer.
- That the Lord may help N. in this moment of trial, we pray: R. Lord, hear our prayer.
- That the Lord may watch over N., and keep him/her ever in his love, we pray: R. Lord, hear our prayer.
- That the Lord may give N. strength and peace, we pray: R. Lord, hear our prayer.
In silence, the priest then lays his hands on the head of the sick person
- Praise to you, God, the almighty Father. You sent your Son to live among us and bring us salvation R.Blessed be God who heals us in Christ.
- Praise to you, God the only-begotten Son. You humbled yourself to share in our humanity and you heal our infirmities, R. Blessed be God who heals us in Christ.
- Praise to you God, the Holy Spirit, the Consoler. Your unfailing power gives us strength in our bodily weakness. R. Blessed be God who heals us in Christ.
- God of mercy, ease the sufferings and comfort the weakness of your servant, N., whom the Church anoints with this holy oil. We ask this through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.
The priest anoints the sick person with blessed oil. First, he anoints the forehead, saying
Through this holy anointing may the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit.  R. Amen.
Then he anoints the hands, saying:
- May the Lord who frees you from sin save you and raise you up. R. Amen.
The priest says this prayer or one of the provided options.
- Let us Pray. Father in heaven,through this holy anointing grant N. comfort in his/her suffering. When he/she is afraid, give him/her courage, when afflicted, give him/her patience, when dejected, afford him/her hope, and when alone, assure him/her of the support of your holy people. We ask this through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.
The priest introduces the Lord’s Prayer in these or similar words
A Jesus taught us to call God our Father, and so we have the courage to say:
All say: Our Father . . . .
- Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.
R. Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.
The priest goes to the sick person and says: The Body of Christ R. Amen.
(Viaticum) After giving Communion to the sick person, the priest adds
May the Lord Jesus Christ protect you and lead you to eternal life. R. Amen
The priest says this prayer or one of the provided options.
Let us pray. Father, your Son, Jesus Christ, is our way, our truth, and our life. Look with compassion on your servant N. who has trusted in your promises. You have refreshed him/her with the Body and Blood of your Son: May he/she enter your kingdom in peace We ask this through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.
May the Lord be with you to protect you.  R. Amen.
May he guide you and give you strength.  R. Amen.
May he watch over you, keep you in his care, and bless you with his peace.  R. Amen.
May almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, + and the Holy Spirit. R. Amen.
SIGN OF PEACE The priest and the others present may then give the sick person the sign of peace.

The Commendation of the Dying
Prayers to accompany the dying
These texts are intended to help the dying person, if still conscious, to face the natural human anxiety about death by imitating Christ in his patient suffering and dying. The Christian will be helped to surmount his or her fear in the hope of heavenly life and resurrection through the power of Christ, who destroyed the power of death by his own dying.

Even if the dying person is not conscious, those who are present will draw consolation from these prayers and come to a better understanding of the paschal character of Christian death. This may be visibly expressed by making the sign of the cross on the forehead of the dying person, who was first signed with the cross at baptism. The prayers are best said in a slow, quiet voice, alternating with periods of silence.
One or more of the following short texts may be recited with the dying person. If necessary, they may be softly repeated two or three times.

Romans 8:35 Who can separate us from the love of Christ?
Matthew 25:34 Come, blessed of my Father, says the Lord Jesus, and take possession of the kingdom prepared for you.
Luke 23:43 The Lord Jesus says, today you will be with me in paradise.
Psalm 31:5a Into your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit.
After this introduction one or all of these readings may be proclaimed. Other recommended readings are: Ps. 23, 25, 91, 121; Rev. 21:1-7; Mat. 25:1-13; Luke 22:39-46; Luke 24:1-8; John 6:37-40
A. Job 19: 23-27 Oh, would that my words were written down! Would that they were inscribed in a record: that with an iron chisel and with lead they were cut in the rock forever! But as for me, I know that my Vindicator lives, and that he will at last stand forth upon the dust; and from my flesh I shall see God; my inmost being is consumed with longing. Whom I myself shall see: my own eyes, not another's, shall behold him.
F. 1 John 4:16 We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us. God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.
John 14:1-6, 23, 27 Jesus said to his disciples, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father's house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. Where I am going you know the way." Thomas said to him, "Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”
After the readings, or at another appropriate time, the litany of the saints – or at least some of its invocation – may be prayed. Special mention may be made of the patron saints of the dying person, of the family and or the parish.
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. // Christ, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. // Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for him/her  //   Holy angels of God, pray for him/her

Abraham, our father in faith, pray for him/her  //  David, leader of God's people, pray for him/her
All holy patriarchs and prophets, pray for him/her //  Saint John the Baptist, pray for him/her
Saint Joseph, pray for him/her  //  Saint Peter and Saint Paul, pray for him/her
Saint Andrew, pray for him/her  //   Saint John, pray for him/her
Saint Mary Magdalene, pray for him/her  //   Saint Stephen, pray for him/her
Saint Ignatius, pray for him/her  //  Saint Lawrence, pray for him/her
Saint Perpetua and Saint Felicity, pray for him/her  //  Saint Agnes, pray for him/her
Saint Gregory, pray for him/her  //  Saint Augustine, pray for him/her
Saint Athanasius, pray for him/her  //  Saint Basil, pray for him/her
Saint Martin, pray for him/her  //  Saint Benedict, pray for him/her
Saint Francis and Saint Dominic, pray for him/her  //  Saint Francis Xavier, pray for him/her
Saint John Vianney, pray for him/her  //  Saint Catherine, pray for him/her
Saint Teresa, pray for him/her Other saints may be included here. All holy men and women, pray for him/her
Lord, be merciful, Lord, save your people.

From all evil, Lord, save your people.  //  From every sin, Lord, save your people.
From Satan's power, Lord, save your people.  //   At the moment of death, Lord, save your people.
From everlasting death, Lord, save your people.  //  On the day of judgment, Lord, save your people.
By your coming as man, Lord, save your people. //  By your suffering and cross, Lord, save your people.
By your death and rising to new life, Lord, save your people.  //   By your return in glory to the Father, Lord, save your people.
By your gift of the Holy Spirit, Lord, save your people.  //  By your coming again in glory, Lord, save your people.
Be merciful to us sinners, Lord, save your people.

Bring N. to eternal life, first promised to him/her in baptism, Lord, hear our prayer.
Raise N. on the last day, for he/she has eaten the Bread of Life, Lord, hear our prayer.
Let N. share in your glory, for he/she has shared in your suffering and death, Lord, hear our prayer.

Jesus, Son of the Living God, Lord, hear our prayer.
Christ, hear us.  Christ, hear us.
Lord Jesus, hear our prayer.  Lord Jesus, hear our prayer.
When the moment of death seems near, some of the following prayers may be said:
Go forth, Christian soul, from this world in the name of God the almighty Father, who created you, in the name of Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, who suffered for you, in the name of the Holy Spirit, who was poured out upon you, go forth, faithful Christian. May you live in peace this day, may your home be with God, with Mary, the virgin Mother of God, with Joseph, and all the angels and saints.
Immediately after death has occurred, all may kneel while one of those present leads the following prayer.
Loving and merciful God, we entrust our brother/sister to your mercy. You loved him/her greatly in this life: now that he /she is freed from all its cares, give him/her happiness and peace for ever. The old order has passed away: welcome him/her now into paradise where there will be no more sorrow, no more weeping or pain, but only peace and joy with Jesus your Son, and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. R. Amen.

Those present may conclude these prayers with a simple blessing or with a symbolic gesture, for example, signing the forehead of the deceased with the sign of the cross. A priest or deacon may sprinkle the body with holy water.