The Orthodox Manner of Taking Care of the Sick and the Elderly

Most Holy Theotokos Rescuer of the Perishing is dedicated to the spiritual and physical welfare of the sick and elderly.  This is not a matter of words but of deeds.  All too often, those who are sick and elderly are cut off from loved ones and their community.  They are left alone to suffer in silence.  As Orthodox faithful, we all have a duty to remedy this situation.

I recently came across a video of raw footage that Bishop Tikhon Shevkunov shot around the time he authored the best-selling book Everyday Saints.  The wildly popular book reveals the lives of ordinary and extraordinary Orthodox Christians, monks and laypeople who take discipleship seriously.  In the video, there are clips showing the love for the elderly and sick monks at the Pskov Caves Monastery just outside of Moscow.  They are not only cared for with deep love and affection, but their ties to the community remain strong in spite of the frailty and illnesses.  One of the scenes begins at the 18:45 mark.  The whole video is well worth watching but if you want to take a glimpse of what I’m talking about, go to 18:45 and 57:40.  The love and caring is palpable.  This is really what inspired us to begin Most Holy Theotokos Rescuer of the Perishing.  This need not be confined to the monastery.  We can duplicate this in our own community.

Every Orthodox Christian who is sick and/or elderly should be treated in this fashion.  This simply doesn’t happen in our secular nursing homes and assisted living facilities.  What is revealed in the video is our vision and our task.  When Christians are dedicated to such a common purpose, there is great joy even in the midst of physical infirmity and suffering.  Lives are transformed, communion with Almighty God is restored and there is no desolation or isolation because sin has been overcome with love.  This is the goal of our life as Christians.  It is the end result, God willing, of all our ascetic practices of prayer, fasting, and vigil.