Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 2, 2003
Commence to love God and neighbour
By MSGR. JIM LISANTE
This is the time of year when young people and their families are excited about graduations. Whether from elementary school, high school or college, it's time to leave the old behind and move on to something new.
These "commencements" speak of the future as much as the past, so graduates naturally concentrate on their hopes and plans. I would, however, like to put in a good word for considering responsibility and faithfulness.
That's especially true for those who are starting their careers, some with bachelor's degrees in hand, others with master's or even PhDs. Lawyers and librarians, teachers and business people, all professions carry special obligations. Certainly that's true of doctors and nurses who hold in their hands the lives of their patients - in other words, us.
Father James Keller, who founded The Christophers, felt the same way many years ago when he wrote A Physician's Prayer, which is still good today:
"Thank you, O Lord, for the privilege of being a doctor - for letting me serve as your instrument in ministering to the sick and afflicted.
"May I always treat with reverence the human life which you have brought into being.
"Keep me constantly alert to see that the sacred right to live is never violated for even the least individual.
"Deepen my love for people so that I will always give of myself gladly and generously to those stricken with illness and suffering.
"Help me to listen patiently, diagnose carefully, prescribe conscientiously and follow through faithfully.
"Teach me to blend gentleness with skill, to be a doctor with a heart as well as a head.
"Let me be calm without being cold, patient without being weak and strong without being proud.
"Help me, Lord, to give encouragement without overconfidence, to tell the truth without being blunt.
"May I be prompt to relieve pain, quick to hold out the hand of honest hope.
"Inspire me to show always a special tenderness for the poor and forgotten, for those who are broken in spirit as well as in body.
"Grant that I may continually bring to my work the same soothing compassion which you so generously displayed centuries ago in healing the sick of Galilee.
"Through the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, let me eagerly seek to put into practice, to the best of my ability, every discovery of medical science.
"And finally, O Divine Doctor, through my service to the sick, may I merit the heavenly reward which you promised in these thrilling words: 'Come, O blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world'" (Matthew 25:34).
I hope doctors and other health care professionals live up to the intentions of this prayer. But, it also seems to me that most of these words apply in some way to all of us. Each person has a duty to care about other people and to treat all human life with reverence. Not, perhaps, in an emergency or operating room, but day by day in our homes and offices, churches and street corners. Whatever our work, whatever our education, it's our responsibility to be faithful to the command to love God and neighbour. And it's never too late to commence.
(For a free copy of the Christopher News Note, Being a Good Neighbour, write: The Christophers, 12 East 48 St., New York, NY, 10017; or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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