I would encourage some small, gentle reminders of how much God loves your dad. Try a few of these suggestions, but not all at once and not with any sense of pressure or urgency. Your aim is to help to gently lift the barriers your dad has erected between himself and God.
Quiet sacred music may be comforting. A crucifix or holy picture on a bedside table can offer visual comfort. If your dad would come to the point of desiring prayer, the psalms and the Lord’s prayer may stir his spirit. Place a Bible or small prayer book nearby.
Perhaps there are other loved ones who have preceded your dad in death. Who does he anticipate seeing again in the afterlife? Encourage his stories about these people so the possibility of being reunited with them can prod his imagination.
Did Dad have any favorite saints when he was growing up? See what you can add to the fragments he may remember about them. Say some short prayers to them aloud while you are tending to his needs. O, St. Michael the Archangel, please watch over Dad and protect him while I run out to the store to do my errands. Or, Dear St. Andrew, please give Dad courage for his physical therapy session, to do his best, and to endure the discomfort.
Sit and listen to your dad’s stories of his life, even though you may have heard them a hundred times before. Once in awhile you can make subtle faith connections as you note the joys and sorrows of his journey. God sure blessed you when you got a new job after so many months without work! Or, When your best friend died, you must have felt so lonely. It makes me think of what Jesus’ disciples must have felt when he died. In whatever way possible, help your dad see that his has been a life well-lived and that God has always been in the midst of it, recognized or not.
Questions for Christ may be sent to her at
Catholic Herald Parenting,
PO Box 070913,
or by e-mail: email@example.com
See if you can rally a prayer team for your dad. These would be friends, family, or strangers, who would pray fervently for your dad’s peace and consolation. Let him know who these people are and that they are praying for him. Call your intentions for your dad into your parish prayer network or write them in a book of Mass intentions. We ask prayers for Robert as he awaits results of his medical tests.
Light a votive candle at church for Dad each week and let him know that you have done so. Bring home the bulletin, a palm on Palm Sunday, a pamphlet of prayers for Advent. In small ways, connect his daily round with the liturgical cycle. Dad, today is the first Sunday of Advent, so we’re having one Advent cookie. Next week will be two! Change the color of the cloth on his bedside table with the liturgical season, and place a small symbol there such as a purple cloth and small crucifix for Lent.
Short, friendly visits by your deacon, pastor or lay pastoral minister may help ease the way for your dad to become comfortable with the church again. When the time seems right, your priest may invite your dad to receive confession, Eucharist and the sacrament of the sick.
Your dad’s human/divine journey has not yet ended. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to lovingly companion Dad on his journey home to the God, who has never ceased to love him with a tender, and steadfast love!
(Christ is a consultant in ministry in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. The married mother of four young adult children, she gives talks and workshops, leads retreats, and is a spiritual director. Christ self-publishes materials for parishes, and is the author of “Journeying with Mark,” “Journeying with Luke,” and “Journeying with Matthew.” Published by Paulist Press, the books are intended to be used by families in the car on the way to Mass.)