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Celebrating life in sickness in El Escorial (Brs)

Twenty brothers of El Escorial, and from Miranda, Madrid, and Salamanca celebrated the sacrament of anointing of the sick in a cheerful and hopeful community celebration, without Mass. One brother was anointed for the fifth time. At least, brothers of the surrounding communities were invited  and some of the residents in the cities noted were in attendance. The caregivers of the sick were also present.

The event took place Saturday December 19, the eve of the 4th Sunday of Advent, of the recently opened Jubilee Year of Mercy, at one in the afternoon, in the public Eucharistic chapel, well heated, of our house in El Escorial. The day was splendid for the time of year in which we are, on the cusp of  winter. It was 14 degrees Celsius (57.2 Fahrenheit) and the temperature went higher in the early afternoon. The provincial superior Enrique Losada and Jose Manuel Belza presided over the assembly made up mostly of priests. Jose had put the seats in a square, around a small round table, tastefully decorated and full of symbolism.

After the song of thanksgiving to the Lord, we proclaim seven reasons why we bless the Lord. Brothers freely gave even more reasons. When we reflected that our life is an autumn of faded days and long nights,  a withered twig was placed inside the hollow stump of a dry elm. A bright green sprig of holly was introduced there  that the Lord is the spring that fills us with hope.

The Liturgy of the Word based on Mark 2: 1-13 came next. There followed a series of questions to which everyone was free to respond.  Then there was a time of silence and preparation. The invocation of the Holy Spirit began the liturgy of the sacrament itself. The celebrants approached each brother and anointed him with oil on the forehead. The formula did not refer to the forgiveness of sins as a theologian made precise later. Finally, the assembly read the prayer of the sick and Juan Antonio Lucas, being from Soria and lover of poetry, recited a lovely poem "To a dry elm" of the Sevillian poet, Antonio Machado. Everything ended at about 2 p.m. with the Advent song, “La Virgen sueña caminos”. (The Virgin dreams paths)

The sick ate in their usual dining room, served by the caretakers and companions, along with members of the community, in the large dining room of the residence, without customers since the day before. It was a sensitive and vibrant celebration. A success. Deo Gratias.

Carlos Barahona sscc