It is strange to talk about the “ministry of blood-relatives” since there isn’t any. But how do you call an opportunity that is opened for a priest to get in contact with a member of the flock who is convalescing in the house of a member of a different Christian denomination made possible by this latter’s relatives?
V. A. is 75 years old. Weakened by an open heart surgery she underwent a few years ago, she has been living with a daughter who is a Born Again Christian in a house within our parish. I learned about her only this afternoon when a Mr. A. called the parish office asking for a priest. Later, I learned that he called because he was requested by the children of V. A. to get a priest to give her the sacrament for the anointing of the sick. So I did go to V. A. this afternoon and gave her the anointing.
It was the first time I entered the house of a Born Again Christian; there is nothing there that suggests any reliigious affiliation. The house was bare. I found V. A. in a room adjacent to the sala with a maid who was also looking after a baby in a crib. The maid who met me at the door was obviously a Catholic, but I don’t know whether she was still going to Church. The other maid who was taking care of the baby is perhaps also an un-Churched Catholic (although her face looks familiar). I felt no hostility in the house when I performed the sacrament of the Anointing. There was a slight resistance on the part of V. A. however, but this is understandable. Old Catholics are suspicious when a priest comes for them; they think it is a sign that they are about to die. Fortunately, I didn’t wear my black habit, and when I mentioned the name of the sacrament I was about to administer, I didn’t say “Last Sacrament” but “Anointing of the Sick.”
After my short visit with V. A. I couldn’t help thinking: if Mr. A. hadn’t called me up, I wouldn’t learn of the existence of V.A. And if V. A.’s children hadn’t called up Mr. A., V. A. wouildn’t have the chance to receive the Sacrament of the Anointing. V. A. is fortunate to have children who are still “churched” Catholics. I learned that one of them lives in Quezon City and is a lay minister for his parish. Mr. A. himself, a cousin of V. A., is from a parish adjacent to ours. Without these blood-relatives, V. A. would have been prayed over by a group of Born Again Christians, but she wouldn’t have had the chance to experience what St. James wrote in his letter:
Is any man sick among you? Let him bring in the priests of the church and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith shall save the sick man. And the Lord shall raise him up: and if he be in sins, they shall be forgiven him. (James, 5:14-15, Douay)
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