Massachusetts General Hospital- Spiritual Care
Spiritual resources for Hard Times
Selected Readings, Practices, and Tools for Resilience in a time of U N C E R T A I N I T Y
We acknowledge that prayers are important to many of you and may be part of your spiritual practice. If you have prayer requests, we welcome them. Please write them on the binder by the entrance of the Mass General Chapel on Ellison 1. We also have prayer trees in various units and family waiting rooms in the hospital. A basket of ribbons is placed beside each tree. Please take a ribbon and write your hope, wish, intention and/or prayer on it. Then tie the ribbon onto one of the branches on the tree. We lift your prayers during our respective prayer times.
We also recognize that many who are in the hospital, tend to reflect and ask:
- “Why is there sickness?”
- “Why did this happen to me?”
- “Am I being punished?”
- “What is the meaning of life?”
These questions are spiritual questions. Should such questions come to your mind, we have provided prayers in both English and Spanish below that might give you comfort.
Prayers in English
A prayer for the morning
This is another day, O God. I know not what it will bring forth but make me ready for whatever it may be. If I am to stand up, help me to stand bravely. If I am to sit still, help me to sit quietly: If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently. If I am to do nothing, help me to do it gallantly. Make these words more than words and give me the spirit of your love. Amen.
A prayer for the evening
O God, support us all the day long, until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done. Then in your mercy grant us a safe lodging, and a holy rest, and peace at the last. Amen.
A prayer before surgery
Strengthen me, O God, to do what I have to do and bear what I have to bear; that, accepting your healing gifts through the skill of surgeons, nurses, and other caregivers, I may be restored to usefulness in your world with a thankful heart; and this I pray. Amen.
A prayer after surgery
O God, your compassions never fail and your mercies are new every morning: I give you thanks for relief from pain and for the hope of health renewed. Continue, we pray, the good work you have begun in me; that I, daily increasing in bodily strength, and rejoicing in your goodness, may so order my life and conduct that I may always think and do those things that please you; through the mercy of your love I pray. Amen
A prayer for doctors, nurses, and other caregivers
Sanctify, O God, those whom you have called to the study and practice of the arts of healing, and to the prevention of disease and pain. Strengthen them by your life-giving spirit, that by their ministries the health of the community may be promoted and your creation glorified. Amen
A prayer in the Buddhist Tradition
May all living beings in the Ten Directions always be peaceful, happy and free from Illness. May all their needs be fulfilled in harmony with the Dharma. May all their afflictions be wiped away, without exception. May we all together attain Buddhahood. Namo Shakyamuni Buddha.
A prayer in the Christian Tradition (Prayer of St. Francis)
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that I may seek not so much to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.
A prayer in the Hindu Tradition
In the darkness that encircles us all around, and shuts our vision, do Thou, Lord, rise like the sun, and dispel the darkness with Thy Light Divine. May all be freed from dangers. May all realize what is good. May all be motivated by noble thoughts. May all rejoice everywhere. May all be happy. May all be free from all diseases. May all realize what is good and healthy. May none be subject to misery. O Lord, lead us from the unreal to the Real. Lead us from darkness to Light. Lead us from death to Immortality! Peace, Peace be unto all!
A prayer in the Islamic Tradition
Almighty God! Lord of humankind: remove the hardship and release the sick of her/his sickness. Ease the suffering and heal him/her as you are the Healer. There is no cure except through Your healing. Help us to be steadfast and make our faith well established. Grant us a healthy heart and a truthful tongue. Set right our affairs and forgive us our sins, our wrongs, our mistakes, and shortcomings. Amen.
A prayer in the Jewish Tradition (Psalm 23)
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me. Your rod and staff support me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Amen.
A Prayer for Desert Times
by Unitarian Universalist Margaret A. Keip
The journeys of our lives are never fully charted. There come to each of us deserts to cross — barren stretches — where the green edge on the horizon may be our destination, or an oasis on our way, or a mirage that beckons only to leave us lost. When fear grips the heart, or despair bows the head, may we bend as heart and head lead us down to touch the ground beneath our feet. May we scoop some sand into our hands and receive what the sand would teach us: It holds the warmth of the sun when the sun has left our sight, as it holds the cool of the night when the stars have faded. Hidden among its grains are tiny seeds, at rest and waiting, dormant yet undefeated. Desert flowers. They endure. Moistened by our tears and by the rains which come to end even the longest drought, they send down roots and they bloom. May we believe in those seeds, and in the seeds within us. May we remember in our dry seasons that we, too, are desert flowers. May it be so.
The Spiritual Practice of Self-Compassion
Connect with your spiritual self.
Be still and know that you are more than this current crisis or fear or unsettledness.
Your spirit is eternal in this moment.
Having connected to your spiritual self, practice of self-compassion. Say to yourself:
“I am suffering right now; all human beings suffer and deserve kindness; may I be kind to myself.” “Combining these words with placing your hand on your heart can spur the sense that you are connected with self and others.”
This practice may help to switch from fight-or-flight into relax-and-respond.
From this more centered place, ask yourself:
What gesture of kindness can I do now, for the world?
For those in need See what comes to you.
We have no idea the far-reaching impact of our large or small gestures, even the simple act of bringing ourselves into a state of loving-kindness has ripple effects we may not see.
All we know is that our peaceful, positive state is a contribution to the world around us. We can make choices from hope, not fear.
This is a Twenty-Eight Page Comprehensive Document that offers many very helpful and spiritually uplifting prayers, readings, meditations as well as resources that can be accessed directly by individuals in times of Uncertainty.
Velandy Manohar, MD.,
Distinguished Life Fellow, Am. Psychiatric Association