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Monday, January 4, 2010

Mind If We Pray?

By Steven P. Velasquez
Jan. 3, 2010

A few years ago, we responded to a ninety something year old female that had become unresponsive during a Catholic mass. Upon our arrival, BLS had gotten the patient out to the ambulance and were treating her appropriately. We began our assessment and treatment when through the side door, there appeared a priest. He asked: "Would you mind if we pray for her? We'll stay out of your way." My partners and I took a collective glance around the ambulance and could find no objection. He wasn't hysterical or obstructing care, so we let the priest and his partner climb in.

Silently but audibly, the two gave the patient "Last Rites" (the last of the Catholic sacraments, necessary for salvation, before moving into the hereafter) and began reciting the "Lord's Prayer." "Our father, who art in Heaven..."

The prayer began with the ceremony of the silent priests. My partner's voice suddenly joined, soon the EMT's voices were present. Then, as if absorbed, though not involuntarily, into a whirlpool of spirituality, I echoed completing the caretaker's chorus. Albeit a little
Last Rites
unorthodox and I'm sure could, in certain circumstances, cause a variety of conflicts, it was beautiful. This occasion was moving to say the least! I felt the hair on the nape of my neck stand at attention. The voices seemed to roll around the ambulance like a round robin. A chorus of bellowing baritones resonated and reflected off the walls and provided a soothing environment for us all.

Patient care was never interrupted. Everything went as it should, it just felt a little less repetitive than the usual call. We felt uniquely attached to each other, to the patient and to the two clergy. The patient seemed more human and we seemed to be more than just clinicians. I actually felt as though I was an instrument of God, channeling His good will, working with and praying over one of his elder children.

No father. We don't mind if you pray.

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