I was called to an assisted living facility to provide end-of-life care for a woman whose daughter has faithfully served at her mom’s bedside in a 24/7 capacity for nearly a year. It is fair to say these are the wounded out on that battlefield of life about whom Pope Francis speaks regularly and eloquently.
After anointing the dying woman, I carefully stripped off my mask, gown and latex gloves, as prescribed by clinical procedure. So careful was I to do it correctly that I peeled the whole vesture of contamination into a wad, which, unbeknownst to me, thus enfolded the small container of oil I have used to anoint the sick during my 37 plus years of ministry.
At another sick call two days later, I discovered my loss. Fumbling for my missing oil, I fell short of the required form and matter of the sacrament of the sick and prayed earnestly over a gentleman who took consolation in my lavish laying on of hands as well as being crossed on the forehead with my dry thumb.
In that same week, I visited a woman who had just received word that an immediate progression of events would lead to her heart valve procedure, extended rehab in a care center and placement into assisted living. All this upon the 50th anniversary of ownership of her home, now to be vacated and sold.