MINISTRY TO THE SICK
“Prayer is a great weapon, a rich treasure, a wealth that is never exhausted, an undisturbed refuge, a cause of tranquility, the root of a multitude of blessings, and their source.”
—St. John Chrysostom
The Orthodox Church has always viewed body and soul as inseparable thus stressing the necessity for preserving both in good health, following our Lord, Jesus Christ's exhortation to his disciples to "heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons" (Matthew 10:10). This follows Christ's ministry to "heal the brokenhearted, and to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind" (Luke 4:18; see Is 61:1), and to heal "all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease (Matthew 4:23).
In healing, the Church follows the procedure prescribed by the Apostle James: "Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sin, he will be forgiven" (James 5:14-15).
Area hospitals no longer inform the Parish of inpatients due to confidentiality restrictions. Even if patients request notification to their pastors or parish, hospital volunteer staff often cannot do so in a timely manner. Therefore, if you or an immediate member of your family member are in the hospital or is in need of pastoral care, please contact Fr. Nick, our Cathedral Dean and our church office at 626-284-9100. Pastoral Care is the ministry provided by our priests to visit the sick in the hospital and homebound. It is an outreach program to ensure that our faith reaches all of those that are part of our parish.
It is also appropriate to inform the Parish Priest of a planned stay at the hospital. One may request a visitation in advance, and this is common for those with planned surgeries.
In addition to praying for one's comfort and healing, clergy are able to administer the sacraments of Holy Confession, Holy Unction and Holy Communion at the hospital or prior to a scheduled hospital procedure.
The Parish Priest cannot administer Holy Communion to those unable to swallow, those on intake-restrictions, and those unable to convey their own consent (unconscious, etc.). Holy Unction is the normal alternative in such situations.
Orthodox Christianity has no "last rites."
Please knnow that the Orthodox Christian tradition has no real custom of "last rites." A person who is terminally ill may receive the sacraments, but there is certainly no sense that doing so at the final moments of life is somehow required--especially if sacramental participation has been ignored during healthy times. This is why regular and frequent participation in the Divine Liturgy and Holy Communion is so important. Additionally, we must remember that repentance for our sins is always desired, even to the last breath.
For pastoral reasons, the Parish Priest may ask visitors present to leave the room temporarily in order to converse privately with patients, and this is particularly required if the sacrament of Holy Confession is to be adminsitered.
The Parish Priest cannot make medical decisions for patients or families, but can assist in the decision-making process when difficult choices must be made. The Church does have certain guidelines in the most serious cases, but very few concrete rules.
The spiritual, physical and mental welfare of patients and their personal dignity is of the utmost importance in hospital ministry.
Prayer List in the Parish Sunday Bulletin
Additionally, our parish bulletin prayer list is maintained regularly by our Cathedral office. Please contact the office to add a name to this list, or to inform us that the person has recovered and their name may be removed from this prayer list of the sick.
Saint Steven's Myrhhbearing Women
In addition to the above, we have a group of women who make visits to the sick and elderly woman of the parish. These visits include an annointing with oil used during Holy Week at the Tomb of Christ and at the Festive Paschal Services during Bright Week. To learn more about the ministry of these women, please contact our Cathedral Dean, Fr. Nicholas Ceko.