The Spiritual Family The Work

Now only the chaplain can help us!

Father Joseph Gruber introduces himself.

The phone rang and woke me up while I was sound asleep. My first thought  was: „That can only be somebody from the hospital.“ I picked up the phone and heard the voice of the nurse. My guess had been right.
Being a chaplain in the hospital and in the two senior citizens homes in Hohenems (situated in the Austrian federal country of Vorarlberg) I often experience such situations. In my service for the sick and elderly, I try to help them to turn to Jesus. He alone can give them real comfort in all difficult situations of their lives, especially when they are critically ill.
There are countless stories which could prove that Jesus really grants us comfort in the most difficult times of our lives. An employee who works in one of our senior citizens' homes has told me the following experience: One night when she was on duty, an elderly man, terminally ill, was particularly anxious. She had no idea how to solve the problem, but then a thought struck her: „Now none other than the chaplain can help us!“  She phoned me and asked me to administer him the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.
I had already known that man for a long time; I had often visited him and had given him the blessing. Because of his dementia, it was not possible to have a conversation with him. Some days before I had heard that there was a serious conflict in his family. His relatives rejected him completely. They even refused to be informed in case of his imminent death. Therefore I touched upon that when I began the penitentiary rite; I explained to him that we ask God to forgive us all our sins and that it is necessary for us to be really sorry about our sins, about all the harm we have done to others; but that we also forgive with all our heart other people for all words and deeds by which they have hurt us ….   As it is possible in such cases, I gave him the absolution, and then I administered to him the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. He looked at me, his eyes wide open, but without showing if he understood anything of what I was doing. Later the nurse told me that the man, after having received the  Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, was completely changed; he slept quietly like a child; there was no more any anxiety in him, and after a few days he died peacefully.
It is of utmost importance that we are at peace with God and with other people when we pass from this world into the new life that God has promised to us.
In my priestly service, especially when caring for sick and suffering people, I often make the experience which is expressed in the hymn „Everything is grace, everything is a gift, you are nothing but a „tool“  for God, bear that in mind!“ The Lord's generosity is unimaginable. We must walk by faith; it is not yet possible for us to walk by sight. Sometimes, however, the Lord gives us a glimpse into what he brings about in the souls of our fellow people.