Thank God for Nurses

Florence Nightingale and inset photo of Marie Romagnano, MSN, RN

This year, the May 12 celebration of International Nurses Day comes in the middle of Nurses Week in the year designated by the World Health Organization as the International Year of Nurses and Midwives. It also falls on the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale.

The celebration of the 2020 International Nurses Day comes at a time when the world daily acknowledges and applauds the heroic efforts of nurses who are on the front lines in caring for patients during the coronavirus pandemic.

To explore the day's significance, we asked for insights from Marie Romagnano, MSN, RN, founder of Healthcare Professionals for Divine Mercy, an apostolate of the Marian Fathers.

Nurse Marie, how are you spending International Nurses Day?

I'm just basically [being] happy that I'm a nurse. I'm sorry that I can't really work anymore at clinical [nursing], but I am working to develop an educational program for the spiritual care of the patient. That's my main focus right now.

I think reflecting on Nurses Day in the middle of a pandemic is really uplifting for the nurses because they are the most numerous healthcare professionals that are working during the pandemic. And they're front line. It's just really tough to see so many nurses, doctors, healthcare workers, cleaners, secretaries that die from this pandemic.

Vocation is important in this field. Florence Nightingale said that she felt that God called her to service to reduce human suffering.

If you look at Florence Nightingale's life, she really, really was the groundbreaker. Certainly, Christianity is really the basis of nursing. The whole physical and spiritual works of mercy are incorporated in nursing. That's the main thing. Nursing is so important not only for the care of the patient, but for our own spiritual life. Because we're doing what the Lord asks us to do.

Pope Francis had a similar message for International Nurses Day. He said, "Dear nurses, moral responsibility is the hallmark of your professional service, which cannot be reduced to scientific-technical knowledge alone, but must be constantly inspired by your human and humanizing relationship with the sick."

Yes. I say to my students that this is not about walking in a room and starting an IV. Or turning down the vent. Or making some adjustment. It's about your relationship with the patient and how you are going to bring Christ to them through your work. 

That's why I think Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, always has taught us that we put the patient in the rays of mercy, and we become the merciful presence of Jesus when we're in that position.

That's why it's so important that, if we wear the Divine Mercy pin for example, it may be a subtle religious article, but it's powerful because we're bringing the blessed Image of Jesus, the Divine Mercy, to the patient.

Here's what Jesus said to St. Faustina about the Image:

I am offering people a vessel with which they are to keep coming for graces to the fountain of mercy. That vessel is this image with the signature: Jesus, I trust in You (Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, 327).

By means of this Image I shall be granting many graces to souls; so, let every soul have access to it (Diary, 570).

By means of this image I shall grant many graces to souls. It is to be a reminder of the demands of My mercy, because even the strongest faith is of no avail without works (Diary, 742).

One other passage to consider is:

I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish. I also promise victory over [its] enemies already here on earth, especially at the hour of death. I Myself will defend it as My own glory (Diary, 48).

That last passage is so meaningful now because of the severity of coronavirus.

You can certainly wear your Divine Mercy pin on your nametag. But when you're in that personal protective gear, the patient can't see anything. Nurses can take the Divine Mercy holy cards and tape them to the wall in the room or the glass facing the room. We can evangelize the sick and dying. I think that's something that's very important.

In New York every day at 7 p.m., there's applause and cheering for nurses. There have been flyovers. People are making thank-you signs. What do you recommend as the best way to thank nurses?

The first thing that comes to mind is have Masses said for the nurses. And pray the Rosary. Those are powerful spiritual tools that they need to survive emotionally and morally. Seeing the number of deaths [that nurses see], believe me, no one can take it. You have to realize at this time in our life, facing a pandemic that is so deadly, we absolutely have to have trust in Jesus — the Divine Mercy — and Our Lady Health of the Sick.

The other thing I want to recommend is prayer through the intercession of St. Stanislaus Papczynski, the Marian Founder, because he is the patron saint of those in mortal danger. He is a powerful intercessor for those who have extremely grave illness.

Saint Stanislaus, gracious intercessor before God, defender of the oppressed and patron of those in mortal danger, you always zealously served Jesus and His Immaculate Mother for the salvation of immortal souls, and you took pity on every misery. Trusting in your intercession, I have recourse to you, and I ask that you do not deny me your help. By your earnest prayers, obtain for me from God the grace... for which I beg you with trust, and help me, all my life long, to fulfill the will of the Heavenly Father. Amen.

I encourage those who are critically ill to ask his intercession and realize that we can count on the saints to help us, and we can count on Jesus the Divine Mercy to help us, and we can count on Our Lady.

There's also a special prayer that St. Stanislaus frequently repeated that you can pray: May the Virgin Mary's Immaculate Conception be our health and protection.

Know a healthcare professional? Consider making a gift of our Healthcare Spiritual Care Pack.



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