One of the biggest complaints of those who visit their doctors is how the physician pays more attention to their computer screens than them. This treatment of a human being, at least implicitly, denies the needs of the soul. Things such as compassion and understanding, so helpful in the healing process, are often absent in these impersonal medical visits. Patients can be left with the feeling they are nothing but the sum of data entered into a spreadsheet.
However, there are physicians who take an intensely personal interest in their patients. Some even go so far as to recognize God’s role in the healing process and even recommend prayer as part of the remedy for their patient’s illness. If this sounds a bit surprising the reader will be consoled to find out that this type of doctor can be found right here in America.
To Be a Good Doctor: Pray an Hour a Day
This kind of treatment is what a fellow member of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) experienced with his new doctor in York, Penn. This physician is a consecrated servant of Our Lady, according to the method of Saint Louis de Montfort, and attends Mass almost on a daily basis. The TFP member was impressed by the amount of personal attention he received. “When you are with him,” he said with an evident sigh of relief, “you feel you have all the time in the world.”
What makes this particular doctor so unique is that he not only holds himself to these high standards, but is shaping future physicians in the same mold. For example, his interns commonly ask him, “What is the most important thing I can do to become a better doctor?” His response: “Pray for one hour every day.” They frequently moan and groan at a suggestion they consider impracticable. “It’s not a matter of if you can find time,” he affirms, “It is a necessity. You have to do this, it’s not an option.”
“Spend Time in Front of the Blessed Sacrament”
This is what Mr. Dominick Galatolo found in Dr. Jose Fernandez, his general practitioner in Orlando, Fla. The consultations, he says, can last for over an hour, and that is not screen time, but rather face to face personal conversation.
The patient already perceives something different as he sits in the waiting room listening to a recorded message: “We know you are anxious when you come to see the doctor, the most important thing to do is relax.” Mr. Galatolo described how Dr. Fernandez is constantly instilling a sense of calm and confidence in his patients with frequent words of encouragement.
“He will look at you with certainty and say, ‘You are going to be fine, Our Lord is going to be with you.’” Mr. Galatolo, who was experiencing some blood pressure issues coupled with anxiety, explained how Dr. Fernandez expressed such a degree of empathy for what he was going through that this caring physician got teary-eyed. After prescribing appropriate medicine, he directed him towards the Divine Healer.
“What you really need is to spend time in front of the Blessed Sacrament,” said Dr. Fernandez. He then advised him to attend daily Mass and stop at the adoration chapel on the way home and spend as much time as possible. “In three months you are going to be a new man, because God wants you to be better.”
“If It Is God’s Will, You Are Going to Be Cured”
Jessie Walczak is a friend of Dr. Fernandez and explained how he was not always like this. She described the change which occurred when he was challenged by another physician who asked him if he was a “Catholic doctor.” Dr. Fernandez responded, “Of course! I am a Catholic and I am a doctor.” The other doctor then responded, “No, that is not what I mean.” He then explained for Dr. Fernandez what it meant to truly be a “Catholic doctor,” which essentially means seeing Christ in the patient.
With this, Dr. Fernandez had a eureka moment. He became both a better Catholic and an outstanding doctor. He now begins his day by praying with his staff which includes reading the Gospel of the day and providing reflections.
Mrs. Walczak is thankful for his spiritual transformation since she attributes his wisdom to not only saving her life but allowing her to have more children. After giving birth to her first child, she was diagnosed with lupus. Her previous doctor told her that she could not have more children and therefore needed to take birth control. When she refused, he said she would die. At this point, she was confused and did not know what to do. As a last resort, she went to see Dr. Fernandez.
She described how he gave her such hope. He kept repeating, “If it’s God’s will, you are going to be cured and you will have more children, but you have to do what I am going to tell you.” Besides putting her on a new diet, she says, he “prescribed” adoration. She laughingly explained how he literally wrote on a prescription pad, “you have to go to adoration twice a week. This is part of your protocol.”
Thanks to Dr. Fernandez, at the time of writing this article Jessie has given birth to her fourth child and is a picture of health.
Develop a Devotion to Saint Joseph
Such care is by no means confined to those who take care of the body but also those who care for the mind. This is where the godly touch is perhaps most needed. It is for this reason that a friend of mine expressed his unbounded appreciation for Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons, in Conshohocken, Penn. He had tried numerous other psychiatrists who were simply satisfied with prescribing medicine. With Dr. Fitzgibbons he found a psychiatrist that was as interested in finding out more about the “why” than the “what.”
In other words, he is concerned in getting to the root of the problem before or even if he must resort to medication. He specializes in marital healing, but also helps men who suffer from anxiety caused by, among other things, negative paternal modeling. It is for this reason that my friend was extremely consoled when Dr. Fitzgibbons, a very Catholic psychologist, counseled him to have more devotion to Saint Joseph. Dr. Fitzgibbons also makes it a point to end every consultation with a prayer.
Doctors Who Love God
This article is not meant to idealize our medical establishment, but merely to point out some examples—there are many others—of doctors who demonstrate a deep concern for their patients. Even if they don’t make it explicit, they seem to see clearly that a patient also has a soul, which has needs. Compassion and empathy may not heal a physical wound but they will do wonders to calm a disturbed soul.
Saint Jacinta Marto, the youngest seer of the Mother of God at Fatima, Portugal in 1917, is frequently quoted as saying that, “Doctors have lost the ability to cure because they have lost the love of God.” Well, according to Saint John, it is impossible to love God who we do not see, if we do not love our neighbor who we do see. That is what makes these doctors so refreshing, and it is the secret to their success. They are capable of curing people because they love God.