Links for Learning
Connections for High School Teachers and Students
Links for Learners will support high school curriculum
Finding Links for
Discussion Group Leaders and Participants
Gospels; Jesus as redeemer; sacraments; medical ethics
- Social Studiesrole
of health care in our communities
practice of medicine
Look for connections
for use in programs outside the classroom, such as:
- Parish sacramental
preparation programs and CCD classes; young adult discussion
programs; seasonal discussion groups; RCIA programs.
- Parents will
also find this material useful in initiating discussion around
the dinner table, in home study, at family activities or as
preparation for parent/teacher meetings.
Terms in This Months Article
Look for these key
words and terms as you read the article. Definitions or explanations
can be researched from the article itself, or from the resource
materials cited throughout the Links for Learners.
the Anointing of the Sick
I was ill and
you cared for me
This month's article
highlights the Catholic Church's tradition of caring for the
sick. Since the earliest days of the Church, Catholic Christians
have seen caring for the sick as part of their mission to
continue Christ's presence in the world. In almost every part
of the United States, and all through the world, dedicated
congregations of sisters have established Catholic hospitals
and health care networks. Mother Teresa is certainly one of
the best known of these caregivers. Mother Seton, born to
wealth as Elizabeth Seton, was the first American saint and
founder of an order dedicated to serving the poor through
health care and education. Today the Sisters of Charity Federation
encompasses 10 congregations and 7,000 members.
You don't have to
travel far, especially in poorer areas, before encountering a Catholic
hospital. You may find it enlightening to identify and research
the Catholic hospital nearest to your school or parish. A visit
or call to the public relations department of the hospital, or viewing
its Web site, will provide you with information on the hospital's
mission statement and its affiliated hospitals. You may be surprised
to learn just how extensive Catholic health care is. For example,
Catholic Healthcare West (CHW), based in northern California and
run by the Sisters of Mercy, operates 48 hospitals in California,
Arizona and Nevada. Through mergers and acquisitions, CHW has grown
by taking both Catholic and non-Catholic hospitals into its network.
You'll find in the mission statements for all these Catholic institutions
a concern for both body and spirit.
Matters of the spirit
have long been pushed aside in America, says our author. Rabbi Marc
Gellman, one half of Good
Morning America's famed God Squad, agrees. It is still acceptable,
Gellman says, to be prejudiced against those who take their faith
seriously. (See "Priest
and Rabbi: The Media's God Squad" in St. Anthony Messenger Online's
As Catholic medical
schools now lead in teaching physicians how to be attentive to the
spiritual needs of their patients while treating their physical
illnesses, more doctors will see the body-spirit relationship as
integral to healing. The article cites Loyola
University Medical Center and its Stritch
School of Medicine, as well as Georgetown
University Medical Center, as organizations now preparing their
students for the spiritual dimension of healing. Harvard
Medical School and the American
Academy of Family Physicians have also recently conducted studies
on spirituality's relationship to medical treatment.
While the medical
community in the United States is increasingly receptive to linking
faith and medicine, resistance still exists. The Journal
of the American Medical Association has published articles such
as "What is the role of spirituality in medicine?", discussing the
pros and cons of the issue. One physician, for example, sees spirituality
as a serious threat to medical ethics. Dr. Richard Sloan, chief
of the department of behavioral medicine at New York State Psychiatric
Institute, worries about using religion as a form of treatment.
Much harm can be done, he argues, if a physician even hints that
a patient who fails to recover is weak in faith.
For further discussion,
see the National Institute for Healthcare
Research. Here you'll gain access to information on the top
10 research studies on spirituality and health conducted in the
mid-to late 90's. Another spirituality and health Web site offers
on forgiveness and healing. You may also refer to your local broadcast
schedules for PBS' weekly program
on mind, body and spirit. For a print reference, see Harold George
Koenig's The Healing Power of Faith, Simon and Schuster,
New York, 1999.
What needs healing
Gospel (5:25-34) we see the wonderful story of the woman with
the chronic illness who sought to be cured by Jesus. Treated by
physicians for 12 years, the woman was unable to find relief for
her condition. And then, learning of Jesus, she knew in her heart
that simply to touch his clothes would cure her. And it did. Not
one to pass up a teachable moment, Jesus called her out of the crowd
and used her faith-inspired cure to demonstrate God's power over
Even if we cannot
identify with this woman's plight, surely something in us needs
healing. Whether physical, mental or emotional, don't we all suffer
from some affliction that nags at us and just won't go away despite
our efforts and prayers? It might be an illness such as recurring
cancer or the onset of Alzheimer's
disease. Maybe it's a struggle with an addictive behavior such
as drug or alcohol abuse. For some
it may be an eating disorder such as anorexia
or bulimia or a constant battle with low self-esteem.
Talk openly about
the situations that may afflict you to the point of ill health:
anxiety over financial problems; fear brought on by a painful relationship;
chronic weariness from too many responsibilities; stress over seeking
good grades for admission to college; alienation from peer groups
or fellow workers; an inner rage self-inflicted by an inability
to deal with what life sends our way.
We can so desperately
want to be healed. Don't many of us turn to sedatives, to mind-numbing
activities, to denial, because we can't find a cure for our ills?
Even constant prayer doesn't seem to help.
Discuss the woman's
faith in Mark's Gospel. After a long period of fruitlessly seeking
help from the medical establishment of the time, she opens her heart
to Jesus. Her faith is so simple that she needs only to touch his
clothes to be healed. No introductions, no long petitions, no whining
or cajoling. Just a touch. Do we have such a fundamental faith?
How can we touch Jesus'
garment? Where can we find healing? It is our fundamental Christian
belief that Jesus still lives, that he is among us. Where do we