I went to visit a friend this past week that I had not seen in a little spell for some mysterious reason. Then I found out why. It turns out that my friend had been pretty ill and was not completely over it yet. It wasn’t just a pretty bad flu, it was a serious illness.
Sometimes it is hard to come up with something to say in such situations. “I’m sorry,” seems as oddly wrong as it seems oddly appropriate. I find most people don’t mind talking about it but don’t want fussed over. So I include such situations into the general category of another joy of being a priest.
“Have you been anointed?”
“Do you want to?”
“Okay, let’s do it.”
The Church gives us something to say and something to do. We fall into comfortable patterns of prayer and ways of being with each other and doing something – the very thing that such situations tend to steal from us – having something to do. Whereas the sacrament may be only given by a priest, certainly prayer and the offer to get someone to an anointing is certainly the realm of all Christians and as Catholics we are certainly blessed to have prayers prepared for us if we are at a loss as to what to say.
Gosh, I like being a Catholic priest.