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Ten Commandments That Should Shape Palliative Care


The Ten Commandments that are found in the Old and New Testament are meant to set limits to human freedom so that when obeyed, they produce within human beings a set of virtues or inner strengths, which enable a certain flourishing of one’s human nature on the personal level. Likewise, these commandments indicate the rights of others to be respected in addition to duties to be fulfilled toward God, parents and neighbor. They are based on human nature’s fundamental inclinations to certain created goods and God himself, all oriented to producing human happiness when chosen and obeyed according to right reason under grace. They are not arbitrarily imposed by a cruel God but flow reasonably from within.

Given fallen human nature, more than easy or ordinary human effort is required to live them in tense or trying situations. For Catholics, the fundamental human weakness is supplemented by infused virtues and assisting graces, together with guardian angels, to choose the right path to one’s ultimate goal, namely, heaven. Nevertheless, any one of the baptized may freely reject divine and other world helps and choose the easy way of setting aside commandments from many differing motives. Emotions can make disobeying the commandments seem productive and fulfilling.

Years ago, I saw on the Internet the “10 commandments of caring.” It was produced by the HCR Manor Care company (declared bankruptcy in 2018) which owned rest homes around the country. While it was not religiously affiliated, its message was quite good and I would like to take the reader through it from a Catholic perspective. If the following ideals, based upon the biblical ten commandments as applications, were followed in the rest homes of the country, comfort care would greatly improve and the elderly would not languish in some of these homes, but feel loved and wanted by the men and women who take care of them. And perhaps some of the nasty odors that sometimes exist in these places would be banished more often than not.

The first commandment said that “our residents, patients, their families and their friends are the most important people in our facilities.” This notion fits in quite well with the dignity of the human person as do all the rest of their “commandments.” The word “importance” implies respect and reverence for the vulnerable as well as the strong. Patients are comparable with friends and family. Being weak does not make them less human. What flows from this concept is quite interesting in the rest of their “commandments” because rest homes are extensions of their loved ones who have placed their parents or siblings there in the first place, unable to care for them for many legitimate reasons.

Read more at Homiletics Pastoral Review

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