Monday, September 01, 2008

Browsing at a hospital chapel

I was wandering around Providence Medical Center today (because...I mean....where else would I want to be on a beautiful sunny Labor Day afternoon?), and I started thinking of the devil's latest conquest in Mexico, and I wanted to reread chapter 12 from the Book of Wisdom. Alas, the drawers in the patient rooms all had protty-bibles, placed by the Gideons. No Wisdom to be found in the prots' bible, as you know. They think Wisdom is apochyphal. I didn't hope for a Douay, but there was not even an emasculated RNAB to be found laying about in a Catholic hospital. Where would I look?

Eventually, I found myself in the chapel, where it appeared (from the white electric sanctuary lamp) that the Blessed Sacrament was reserved. Being easily distracted, my reflections passed from Canaanite and modern infanticide to the hospital itself and the religious order that founded it (what each once was, and what each has degenerated to today). It occurred to me then that our Lord, presumptively in the tabernacle, might appreciate a little old-fashioned worship of Himself and honor to His Blessed Mother, so I knelt down and said the five joyful mysteries of the Rosary, in Latin. It seemed unlikely that such a thing was common in that chapel. I cannot know, but I hope He enjoyed the change from his routine of lay-led communion services in English and Spanish.

Afterwards, as I was leaving the chapel, I noticed a pamphlet rack in the back. Even though it was bad form to do so with my back to our Lord in the tabernacle, for some reason I picked up a couple of them, just curious to know what the laymen who ran the chaplain's office were peddling. Expecting to see just the usual kumbaya-Catholicism one finds in such places, I was really surprised to find that about half the space in the rack was literature from the Unity people (you know, those folks who've gotten beyond the idea of a hierarchical church, and gotten beyond the God of Abraham, and who've built the ooh-so-cool temple on the Plaza).

The tracts were full of reflections on sickness, suffering and hope; a few from a version of the Bible I've never heard of, others from random folks I'd never heard of (presumably, they're folks who hang out with Unity types). Some reflections benign or trite. Some reflections assuring me that god (if not God) is within me in a way that...well...seemed to go beyond anything that Pius XI might have said. And at the end of each, there was a phone number you could call to pray with somebody at Unity, 24/7.

And so I thought, "Surely, even for this place, tracts from such a source were not intentionally placed there? I mean, surely, these were put here by someone passing through without asking for permission?"

That must have been it. The Unity tracts HAD to have been left without permission. After all, a Catholic hospital (even one affiliated with enlightened nuns who've kicked the habit) wouldn't promote whatever sort of religion "Unity" is. But I must say that the guy who left those tracts was enterprising. Before he smuggled the tracts into the chapel, he went to the trouble of stamping them all "Providence Medical Center Spiritual Care Office."

At least I could be assured that as soon as the priests or orthodox laymen who staff the Spiritual Care Office noticed, they'd be off the shelf. Right? Right!

Comforted by that thought, I can worry more about the Unity guys than the Providence staff. Perhaps I'll call the Unity prayer line and invite the guy who answers to pray the full version of Leo XIII's prayer to St. Michael with me.