A brief paragraph:
Those who visit the sick should help them to pray, sharing with them the word of God proclaimed in the assembly from which their sickness has separated them. As the occasion permits, prayer drawn from the psalms or from other prayers or litanies may be added to the word of God. Care should be taken to prepare for a future visit during which the sick will receive the eucharist.
Part III of the rite, beginning with section 297, gives dozens of Scripture readings and psalms for this purpose. For the suggestion of “other prayers or litanies,” I recommend the excellent volume Novenas from Loyola Press.
Editor William Storey recommends the Litany of the Sacred Heart. In the “Novena or Triduum for the Seriously Ill” he also provides a litany based on Jesus’ gospel healing miracles.
I like the use of a litany for prayer during illness. Being seriously sick can be a time of great depression, boredom, and discouragement. The voices inside my head were often heavy and ponderous the two months I was laid up with a back injury and subsequent surgery. The insistent voice of a litany would seem to be a good aid in overcoming those voices of inner dissent.
That last portion that suggests taking care to prepare the sick to receive the Eucharist is interesting. Certainly, a regular communicant could strive to see the connection of illness with the graces of the Eucharist. (One reason why I don’t always accept the post-conciliar assignment of Penance and Anointing as “Sacraments of Healing”–the category should include the Eucharist.) A person who is not an active Catholic should indeed be prepared, and not just in the sense of confessing sins and receiving absolution. With more Catholics out there who are not regular communicants, some sick people may need formation so as the grace of the sacrament will be enhanced. Visits from lay people might be especially fruitful, I would think.
What do you think?