Prayers Suitable to the Sick

The bed of the sick is an altar of sacrifice…Happy is the just man who disturbs not the sacrifice by his murmurs and his cries, who adores the beneficent hand that is hidden under the instruments which it vouchsafes to employ, who blesses the salutary strokes, who feels the honor of the distinction!

How brilliant will his soul depart from the crucible of tribulations! It is as gold tried seven times, it is marked with the seal of the elect, it bears the impress of Jesus Christ.

It is not good to require Mass in bedrooms; from your bed adore Our Lord on the altar, and be content. Daniel, being unable to go to the Temple, turned towards it; do you the same. But I am of the opinion that you should communicate every Sunday and great feasts on your bed, so long as the doctor permits it. Our Lord will willingly visit you on the bed of affliction.

My dear daughter, if you cannot make long prayers during your infirmities, and during the infirmities of your husband, make your infirmity itself a prayer, by offering it to Him who so much loved our infirmities, that on the day of His espousals and of the joy of His heart, as the inspired lover terms it, He was crowned with them and gloried in them.

Aspire often to God by short but burning elevations of the heart; admire His beauty, invoke His aid, adore His goodness, give Him your soul a thousand times a day, fix your eyes interiorly on His abode, and stretch out your hand to Him, as a little child towards its father, that he may conduct you.

This exercise is not difficult, for it may be intertwined with all our affairs and occupations, without encumbering or delaying them. The traveler who takes a little wine to cheer his heart, though he stops a sort while on the way, does not interrupt his journey, but rather acquires new strength to accomplish it more quickly, only waiting to advance the better.

When did Our Lord render most glory to God, if not when, laid upon the cross, His hands and feet were pierced? This was the greatest act of His service. And what use did He make of those moments? To suffer, to offer; His sufferings were an oblation, an odor of sweetness, to His Father. While you are sick you must lay aside a regular meditation; but to endure the scourges of Our Lord is not less a good than to meditate; no, indeed, but it is rather better to be on the cross with Jesus Christ than merely to contemplate Him in prayer.

Manage yourself very cautiously, so long as your present infirmity continues; be not at all uneasy to force yourself to any kind of exercise, unless gently. If you be tired on your knees, sit up. I you have not attention to pray for half an hour, pray for a quarter, or for only half a quarter. I beg of you to place yourself in the presence of God, and to suffer your sorrows before Him.

As for meditation, the doctors have reason: while you are so unwell, you must give it up, but to supply its place, you must double your devotional prayers, and refer everything to God by a simple acquiescence in His good pleasure, which will not by any means separate you from Him, while preventing you from meditation, but will unite you more closely to Him by the exercise of a holy and tranquil resignation.

What matters is how we belong to God, in one manner or in another? Truly, since we seek Him alone, and since we find Him no less in mortification than in prayer, especially when He touches us with sickness, one mode ought to be as good to us as another, besides, the devotions and aspirations of our soul are true and continual prayers, and the suffering of evil is the most worthy offering that we can make to Him who has saved us by suffering. Read a good book from time to time, for it also supplies the place of meditation. 

Disquiet not yourself about being unable to serve God according to your taste; for, by accommodating yourself well to inconveniences, you will serve Him according to His taste, which is better than yours. May He be forever praised and glorified!

This article is taken from a chapter in Consoling Thoughts on Sickness and Death by St. Francis de Sales which is published by TAN Books



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