A doctor recounts the story of an old priest who found consolation in the hospice section of a hospital for the alleviation of pain from cancer. His father had died when he was only two years old so he doesn't remember his father. This left him alone with his mother. The church in the village was the refuge for the mother, and the son also grew close to the church community. One of his relatives was a religious sister and the thought did come to him of entering the priesthood and in high school this became his decision. He often said it was the prayers of his mother that enabled him to become a priest. A picture taken together with his mother when he entered the seminary is in his wallet and in a frame that continues to be on his desk at home. His mother was his father, teacher, friend and sweetheart. The person who would have been the happiest on the day of his ordination. But she collapsed suddenly two month before his ordination and died shortly after.
Now in the hospital he would frequently call out to his mother when experiencing pain, wrote his attending doctor in the culture of life
column of the Peace Weekly. Medically there was no more that could be done. The
cancer had spread throughout the body and there was no medical way of
controlling the pain. This is difficult, the doctor said, not only for the patient but for all those who
are taking care of the patient. This common occurrence is frustrating for the medical
profession and leaves most doctors with a feeling of helplessness.
recounts the Greek myth of Alcyone and Ceyx. The husband Ceyx went on
a trip by boat and did not return. Alcyone went to the port daily
waiting for his return and praying to the gods for his safe return. One
of the gods felt sorry for Alcyone whose husband had
died in a shipwreck, so he had Morpheus make her husband appear in a
dream that would make clear what had happened to him. With this news she went
back to the ocean and prayed for his heavenly bliss.
During the priest's pastoral days, whenever
his mother was mentioned, all the Christians knew that tears would come to
the priest's eyes. When he was diagnosed with cancer and became weak,
the thought of his mother came often. When he was in pain he used to say
that his mother would appear to him in a dream.
only when he relied on morphine that he was able to rid himself of the
pain of cancer and get some sleep. It was at that time that the expression on his face would become peaceful. It was also at that time that 'Morpheus' allowed his mother to appear to him in sleep, as the daily dose of morphine was increased to get rid of the pain. Because of the morphine the priest would not regain
consciousness. During this time of sleep in God's time, very naturally,
the breathing and heart will stop.
The doctor said he noticed on the face of the priest a gentle smile, during his last moments. He had no doubts that the priest was seeing his mother at his ordination Mass and also at his first Mass, praying for her son.