They help people die

Fr Ireneusz Skubis

On 15 June 2005 Bishop Andrzej Dziega of Sandomierz reconstituted the Brotherhood of Good Death in the parish of Niekrasow. The tradition of the Brotherhood goes back to the 18th century. It was created in 1760 by Fr Stanislaw Sokolowski, parish priest, and by the owners of the lands and the castle in Sandomierz. The Brotherhood was reconstituted after 245 years and its aim is to pray for those who died and those who are dying. The members of the community are obliged to participate in Mass every month. The Mass is celebrated for the dead and the dying at the altar of 'Good Death' (from the times of the old Brotherhood). They also participate in the Way of the Cross, they pray for the grace of good death for themselves as well as they visit the sick, talk to them about religious subjects, especially about taking Holy Viaticum. It is worth stressing that the Brotherhood has already had over 150 members. Today, after my mother's death, I understand better the legitimacy of such communities. For over a long period I had the occasion to be close to a seriously ill person, who was suffering and experiencing fears related to the possibility of development of the illness. I saw the powerlessness facing pain when the person notices that the drugs are not effective and finally, when the person experiences fears in the face of 'passing to the other side'. Many questions are asked: Should I tell the sick that his illness is terminal? How will he react to the priest's visit although he has always been a faithful believer? Our Mummy, although we tried not to show our fears, felt that she needed to prepare herself to the last way of her life. Therefore, when she was offered the sacrament of the sick she gladly accepted it. With great joy she participated at the Mass I celebrated at her bed...
I think that people should be aware that death will come to everyone. We see deaths of our relatives, friends, neighbours or acquaintances, and we should know that some day death will come to us: nobody in the world lives for ever.
Therefore, it is good that there are groups that understand this problem and try to help others through prayer, presence and conversation in this difficult phase of their lives. And in the world there are people who die in great suffering every minute, there are also people who cannot cope with problems at the end of their lives. When our mother was ill it turned out that there were many good people who could care for the terminally ill, who selflessly opened their hearts to the needs, and sometimes they stay with the dying until they pass away to God. When a man is helpless, has no strength, cannot breathe and speak he needs every good gesture, warmth, gentleness and love. And those who are passing into eternity are very thankful for that although they cannot express this with words but they express their gratitude with their eyes and tears, and they look at the help with admiration.
The Bishop of Sandomierz, by restoring the Brotherhood of Good Death, met the desires of numerous people, both those who are dying today and those who will be dying tomorrow, but first of all he made many people aware of this problem, opened their eyes to the precious gift of prayer for the sick, the suffering and the dying and those who cannot pray themselves in this world.
May God give all of us the grace of good death. Let us ask Mary, Patroness of Good Death, for that grace. Let us pray to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and keep the practice of the first Fridays of the month, with which Jesus connected special graces concerning our passing away.

"Niedziela" 44/2005

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: