Matthew 25:34-36 34. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35. for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36. I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
Ilness, both physical and spiritual, can strike at any time. All of us, because of our fallen human nature, are susceptible. At times, our illness may be so debilitating that we are unable to come to the Church for worship and the Holy Mysteries, especially the Eucharist, Unction and Confession. In these circumstances, the Church as the Body of Christ, reaches out to the sick and infirm. The priest can administer the sacraments and provide sound spiritual guidance. Lay people can also participate in this ministry by being present, providing encouragement and meeting practical needs. The church regularly updates its shut-in list. Please let us know if you or anyone else would like a visit from the priest and/or a member of the visitation committee.
Volunteer members of the visitation committee have been given the following instructions:
- Call before you visit. Ask permission to visit. Tell them your visiting on behalf of the St. George parish community.
- Often, the most important gift you can give someone who is sick, shut-in, infirm, imprisoned, etc., is to be there for them. This is called the ministry of presence. Your visit alone will express the love and care of Christ and His Church.
- If the person you're visiting wants to talk, listen. Listening is another simple way to show love and care. Try not to do all the talking yourself. Ask questions. Show your interest in how the person is doing.
- If you talk to them about the church, speak positively. Don't engage in gossip about anyone.
- If they wish, read scripture together with them. Use the liturgical bible guide and do reading(s) from upcoming feast. Psalms and Proverbs are also inspirational.
- If they wish, pray with them. Use an Orthodox Prayerbook and use prayers appropriate to the person and their situation.
- Regarding counseling, be careful here. If you're not trained in pastoral or psychological counseling, try to avoid getting in these conversations. Ask them if you can contact the priest on their behalf to help with issues that may come up. Remember, your ministry of presence, listening and prayer will be of immense help to the person your visiting. Don't get in wover your head.
- Inform the priest of anything you feel would be helpful for him to know regarding the person and their relationship with Christ and His Church.