Friday, April 10, 2009

Jesus And The Urban Abbey

Now, I know some will tuck this story under: "Oh, she was distressed and not fully comprehending what was going on." BALONEY! She was fully comprehending the conversation but seeking spiritual support from someone who is obviously pastorally challenged in these situations.

And so, here is the transcript of my telephone call with the Religious Brother who is the chaplain of the hospital where my aunt lay dying.

Telephone rings....caller id says it is the hospital.

Me: Hello.

Brother Robert (name has been changed to protect the pastorally challenged): Hello, is this Dora Grottano?

Me: No, this is her niece, Rosemarie. Is this Brother Bob?

Brother Robert: This is Brother Robert. (Should have known this was not going to end well. Operator said he was Brother Bob.) I have the wrong name here, thought I was calling Dora Grottano.

Me: No Brother Robert, Dora is my aunt and she is in the hospital. I am on my way to sign the forms to stop all treatment and place her in comfort care and hospice. I was wondering if you would be able to meet me and be there when the treatment was removed.

Brother Robert: You want me there? Why?

Me: For spiritual support.

Brother Robert: Well, the patient chooses a healthcare proxy and that is the person that you should be speaking to.

Me: I AM the healthcare proxy.

Brother Robert: Then what do you need me for? The Church teaches that you do not have to use extraordinary means of care when a patient is near death. BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH...

(Sorry...I tuned out when the lecture began...I too have a Master's Degree in Theology and I know what the Church teaches. In fact, I had been on the phone earlier in the morning with our Deacon who reinforced for me that I had Church teaching down correctly.)

Me: Yes, Brother Robert, I am the Director of Religious Education at So and So Parish and I am aware what the Church teaches. I also spoke with our Deacon this morning who reinforced for me that I am in accord with Church Teaching. I would just be more comfortable that, along with medical support when the wires are removed, there be spiritual support as well.

Brother Robert: Uuuuuummmmmmmmm, I really don't understand what you are looking for.

Me: An annointing for my aunt and spiritual support.

Brother Robert: Your aunt already had an annointing.

Me: Oh, she did. I had asked for one several days ago...I wasn't sure if she had received it. Okay.

Brother Robert: So what you really want is a member of the clergy there when the treatment is stopped.

Me: Yes.

Brother Robert: Uuuuuummmmmm, well I guess I can do that...if I'm not too busy at the time. I tell you what, when you get here have me paged, and if I am available I will come up.

Me: Thank you, Brother Robert.

Now, fast forward to the hospital:


I enter my aunt's room...she is in a private room now...coincidentally(?) the same one I was in when my younger son was born. I begin to pray for my aunt and ask Jesus to be present to us (figuring He must be less busy on Good Friday than the good Brother Robert). Within seconds, I receive a text message from TheUrbanAbbey on Twitter. The message said: "So sorry to hear about what you're going through w/your aunt today. Must be hard...will be praying for both of you."

Apparently, Jesus was not as busy today as the good brother. And, He knew exactly what it was I was requesting: one of his emissaries to stand in support of my aunt and I.

It was really...very...simple!

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