Loading

First responders

Clare Hinshaw

The sound of explosions shattered the serenity in St. Clement Eucharistic Shrine on April 15, 2013. The priests in residence at this Catholic shrine, located three blocks from the finish line of the Boston marathon, wasted no time in racing to the scene armed with the sacramental oils necessary for the administration of last rites. Upon their arrival they found that, while doctors and nurses were admitted without question, first responders of the spiritual variety were not welcome. The priests were turned away from the scene, leaving them unable to minister to the afflicted in the manner that only priests can: through the sacraments. 

What the priests were permitted to do was return to their Church from which they could provide water and fruit to those in physical need. Can we all agree that this is a task that could be performed by anyone? While the Church is certainly focused on ministering to the corporeal needs of humanity it was decided by the apostles themselves that the role of priests was something more. St. Luke records in the Acts of the Apostles:

“At that time, as the number of disciples continued to grow, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. So the Twelve called together the community of the disciples and said, 'It is not right for us to neglect the word of God  to serve at table. Brothers, select from among you seven reputable men, filled with the Spirit and wisdom, whom we shall appoint to this task, whereas we shall devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.'”

From the very beginning the Church made clear that the paramount duty of priests is the administration of the sacraments.  Since they alone, through the sacrament of Holy Orders, have the authority to administer the sacraments this must be their primary focus. In order to ensure that this was the case the apostles had the wisdom to delegate the second duty of the Church, caring for the physical needs of humanity, to the deacons. Throughout the centuries many religious orders have also appeared in order to address specific needs and the laity have recently taken on a larger role in ministering to humanity in the name of the Church. These are the ones who should have been providing food, water, and kind words on April 15.

The priests, on the other hand, should have been at the sides of the dying, ushering them into the Kingdom of Heaven through the sacrament of last rites. As Fr. David Engo said in the movie Fishers of Men, “It is the priest who brings the soul home to God.”  On April 15, the Boston police force took it upon itself to deny to the dying the graces of the final sacrament.  The most poignant tragedy to result from this decision came in the death of 8-year-old Martin Richard, as reported by Jennifer Graham in The Wall Street Journal.  This boy “was a Catholic who had received his first Communion just last year.  As Martin lay dying, priests were only yards away, beyond the police tape, unable to reach him to administer last rites.”

Topics: Current Events , Death , Ministry , Religious freedom

Clare Hinshaw is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Catechetics with minors in Theology and Human Life Studies. She served as the president of the student chapter of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights at Kellenberg Memorial High School on Long Island. At Franciscan University she served as the vice president of the College Republicans and was trained as a pro-life sidewalk counselor.

View all articles by Clare Hinshaw

Ads by Google
(What's this?)

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)

OUR TOPICS

Abortion (48)  Advent & Christmas (19)  Beauty (3)  Bioethics (4)  Books (55)  Church history (16)  Church teaching (31)  Contraception (26)  Culture (123)  Current Events (93)  Dating (15)  Death (4)  Depression (14)  Divorce (7)  Education (14)  Eucharist (4)  Exercise (3)  Faith (220)  Family (89)  Fashion (5)  Feminism (14)  Fertility (2)  Fitness (1)  Food (2)  Forgiveness (18)  Friendship (18)  Generosity (2)  Girl Scouts (2)  Grieving (1)  Health (23)  Home Management (17)  Humor (14)  Leadership (4)  Lent & Easter (13)  Liturgical Year (11)  Marian devotion (8)  Marriage (35)  Mature Years (5)  Meditations (17)  Mental illness (1)  Mercy (2)  Military Families (2)  Ministry (5)  Miscarriage (1)  Motherhood (58)  Movies (2)  Music (5)  Natural Family Planning (2)  Nutrition (4)  Parenting (44)  Personal Growth (105)  Politics (4)  Pope Francis (1)  Pornography (3)  Prayer (33)  Pro-Life (27)  Psychology (1)  Reflections (6)  Relationships (44)  Religious freedom (11)  Saints (11)  Scripture (7)  Service (8)  Sexuality (19)  Single years (4)  Social justice (1)  Social Networking (5)  Special Needs (3)  Spirituality (2)  Suffering (14)  Suicide (1)  Travel (11)  United Nations (1)  Welcome (1)  Women in the Church (4)  Women's Health (20)  Workplace (12)  Writings of the Saints (10)  Young Women (40) 

Jul
31

Liturgical Calendar

July 31, 2014

Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Priest

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Featured Videos

A Look at India from Rome
A Look at India from Rome
3D Church mapping
#PAUSEforPeace Initiative
Dedicating art to San Juan de la Cruz
A state without territory elects new government
The renewal of the Legionaries of Christ
Presentation of the book "The Pastor"
Synod on the Family October 2014
Preferential option for the poor
God is alive, even in sport
'A forbidden God' named Best Film at the International Catholic Film Festival
Vatican backs a 'Pause for Peace' during World Cup final
The effects of religious violence in Sarajevo 
The origin of Corpus Christi 
Corpus Christi at the Vatican 
Homage to an Indian Cardinal
Train of the Child's Light
New book explaining gestures of the Mass
Encounter between Pope Francis and the Charismatic Renewal in the Spirit Movement.
Religious tensions subside amid Balkan floods

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 13:47-53

Gospel
Date
07/31/14
07/30/14
07/29/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Jer 18: 1-6
Gospel:: Mt 13: 47-53

Saint of the Day

St. Ignatius of Loyola »

Saint
Date
07/28/14

Homily of the Day

Mt 13:47-53

Homily
Date
07/31/14
07/30/14
07/29/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: