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By Father Charles Irwin

Visiting the sick

Young people are a special gift to the elderly, especially to those living alone in their homes or in retirement homes. Senior citizens who live in retirement homes may be lonely, even though they live among others. Some of them suffer from an emotional “sickness” wherein they may be tired of all the challenges in their lives. Visitors, especially young people, can help alleviate this “sickness.” Visitors of all ages can give senior citizens a precious gift – the gift of your time and your interest in them. 

Are you not sure what to talk about? Just talk about what’s going on in your own life. This allows the elderly to take a trip back through time to the days when they were younger. That journey takes them away from what hardships they may be experiencing now, and may have a “healing” effect. 

I urge you to visit your friends or relatives who may be in the hospital for a while, or recuperating at home from an illness or injury. I invite young people to consider sitting with a kid in the school lunchroom who is all alone and likely feeling quite lonely, or adults to think about a co-worker who seems to be left out of office camaraderie. Young people and adults can suffer equally from the sickness of loneliness. Spend some of your time with them. 

Remember the Eight Beatitudes Jesus taught us? The seventh, is, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.” Visiting those who feel like they have been forgotten, who feel like no one cares, who feel like they’re “outsiders,” can be a sort of medicine, a type of healing that you can offer. As for yourself, “Happy are the merciful …” 

Would Jesus be pleased? What do you think?