Monday, March 2, 2009


Dear Gloria, (pseudonym)

I know how heartrending it is to keep vigil at the bedside of a friend or loved one who is standing at the edge of mortal life preparing to step over into the Eternal Dimension. I have been there with many whom I have loved through the years. Truly, it becomes even more difficult.

Your friend Tanya’s invisible G.A. (Guardian Angel) has been with her 24/7 ever since she was born, probably since she was conceived. Jesus said that the angels of children always behold the face of His Father, and there is no reason to believe they abandon us as we grow up. We may have even more need of their watchful services!

We can give our G.A. a name if we wish—I named mine “Val” for Valiant—Why? It just seemed right the first time I thought of it. Tanya’s angel was assigned by God to care for her all the days of her life and then to conduct her safely to and through the gates of Heaven into the presence of God. Sometimes we have heard that one’s angel becomes visible to the person who is dying. Tanya will have an excited "Welcoming Committee" of angels and saints and those of her family, friends, and ancestors who have gone on before. Perhaps, (but there is no revealed Christian teaching on this) her angel might remain with her as her familiar, long time friend and guide while she joyfully explores all the adventures of her new life without pain and limitations and without the time-factor. That would be cool!

I hope you won't mind my sharing the prayers below which you might find meaningful as you visit Tanya in hospice care. (I will go with you by my prayers for her although I have never met her and I live far away.) Sometimes in these emotion-packed situations we don't know what to pray or what to say to our friend or loved one. Of course we can and should pray our "homemade prayers” for them as the occasion requires, but to have something in hand that Christians have prayed through the ages is helpful too for our minds and hearts to focus on.

The Divine Mercy Chaplet I mentioned is usually sung to a beautiful melody you can hear every day at 3 p.m. on the Catholic TV channel EWTN, but you may simply pray these words on someone's behalf:

Eternal Father, we offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity
of Your dearly beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
in Atonement for (our) (Tanya’s) sins
and for those of the whole world.
For the sake of His sorrowful passion, (Repeated)
Have mercy on (her) and on the whole world (Repeated)
Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One,
Have mercy on (her) and on the whole world. (Repeated)

If this is prayed for her as her spirit leaves for Heaven, in faith we believe that she receives great mercy from our Lord for her final journey to life after life.

Here is a prayer we may pray for someone in time of sickness and suffering:

Lord Jesus Christ, by your patience in suffering you hallowed earthly pain
and gave us the example of obedience to your Father's will.
Be near (name) in (her) time of weakness and pain;
Sustain (her) by your grace, that (her) strength and courage may not fail.
Heal (her) if it be your will
and help (her) always to believe that what happens to (her) on earth
is of little account if you hold (her) in eternal life,
my Lord and my God.

When someone has already passed into Eternity, we may pray:

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 forever.
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
forever and ever. Amen

And the familiar hymn that is always so meaningful in times like these:

Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, let me stand,
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn.
Through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the light,
Take my hand, Precious Lord, lead me home.

When my way grows drear, Precious Lord, linger near,
When my life is almost gone,
Hear my cry, hear my call, Hold my hand lest I fall,
Take my hand, Precious Lord, lead me home.

When the darkness appears, and the night draws near,
And the day is past and gone,
At the river I stand, Guide my feet, hold my hand,
Take my hand, Precious Lord, lead me home.

Whether a person is conscious or not when we pray for them is irrelevant. Their spirit may be very alert while their body and its senses are receding, even if they are on life support or possibly pronounced “brain dead.” Speak to them, touch them, hold their hand, pray for them, sing to them and read the Scriptures to them as if they understood—and leave it all to God.

May the Lord bless you for your love and compassion for your friend Tanya. Jesus said, "Inasmuch as you do something for the least of My children, you do it unto ME."

Suppose we can’t be present with our friend who is dying because we live at a distance? Our prayers for him or her are not in the least diminished or less efficacious as we direct them to our Heavenly Father through the intercession of our One Mediator, Jesus Christ, and by the power of the Holy Spirit. There is no time or space in God. Our prayers reach our friend at once, faster than the speed of light or through cyberspace by e-mail. Our friend in need receives them instantaneously and is strengthened.

May we lift our hearts to the Lord in faith declaring, “Jesus, I trust in You!”

Your friend, Leona


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