A Restful Soul Gives Jesus a Hug

Franciscan Sisters TOR works mercy

Works of Mercy: Visiting the Sick

"Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you  will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light."

MT 11:28-30

I reflect on these words of Christ each week as I visit the elderly residents of a local nursing home in nearby Weirton, West Virginia. I am privileged to visit the sick along with six other sisters. We bring ourselves, and sometimes a small gift, but the most important thing that we offer to the residents is the loving presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.

I love sharing laughter with the residents, listening to their stories and praying with them.They share about their families, their childhood memories and what it is like to transition to life in a nursing facility.

For many, the aging process is difficult. The residents grieve over losing their relationships with family and friends, their independence, their hobbies, their good looks, etc.  They ask themselves, "Who am I... now that all has been stripped away from me?" It is a painful detachment that all must endure courageously at some stage in their life.

I feel a strong sense of spiritual connectedness with the residents because I have faced a similar death.

Upon entering religious life, I have faced many losses, but in the process I have gained so much more! Losing all of the superficial things that I used to place my identity in has helped me to find my true identity and to rest in the Lord's unique and unrepeatable love for me. 

Now, I am able to help the residents do the same. I affirm their dignity and worth as individuals and I encourage them to see the good in their situation. I assure them that they are lovable just as they are, not because of what they do, but because of who they are: a beloved child of God! I hope that what I am doing prepares them to meet the source of Love itself.

I recently prayed with a woman who was actively in the dying process. She was at peace with her dying process and was prepared to move on to the next world. I asked her what her first words to Jesus would be when she saw Him face to face. She said "Well, I don't know... I've never thought about that before... What would you say to Him?" 

I replied "I don't know either... but I think that I'm going to give him a big hug first." She smiled and said, "That sounds good." I said, "Okay, if you meet him first, will you give him a hug for me?" She replied, "Yes!" with a sparkle in her eye. 

I know that they are preparing me for my eternal rest as well. 

Elise Chabot, Postulant


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