Sr. Mary Threadgold RSC shares with us ‘Ciunas’ a resource suitable for use with groups of older people who have difficulty concentrating or whose memories are failing.
“With the scarcity of Masses in Nursing Homes nowadays and the infrequent availability of Chaplains, I am suggesting a Liturgy that takes the form of a prescriptive prayer service. This 30 minute, repeatable session needs limited facilitation once some of the members of the group are able to play a leading role. Alternatively, a volunteer could lead it (this is a service that needs to be promoted and a programme developed to train prospective volunteers).
The spiritual needs of older people are often overlooked and the Ciunas resource is particularly, but not exclusively, suitable for older people who have difficulty concentrating or whose memories are failing, including residents with Alzheimers. Also it is a well-known fact that somebody who has had a stroke and has a poor ability to speak can recall and recite material learned by heart in early life. In either case, it gives great comfort to many older people to hear and join in prayers and hymns that are familiar to them and that they seldom hear nowadays. It is intended for use with those residents who grew up in the Catholic tradition. Ciunas means stillness or quietness.
This session is suitable for groups (of approximately 8 older people) or it can be used by individuals. The session is supported by a CD which is easy to follow. The inlay in the box lists the hymns and prayers in each session. These are also included in a separate booklet entitled ‘Making the Most of Ciunas’.
The booklet also gives ideas as to how sessions can be used. These sessions could also be held in Day Centres or in the person’s home, especially if they are housebound.
Many younger staff or others who have grown up in a different culture would not be familiar with this repertoire so it is particularly important to provide material in a format that is appropriate and easy to use. Otherwise many members of staff are not in a position to provide the older resident with spiritual support at this level. The co-operation of the Director of Nursing (Matron) is a key factor in ensuring the implementation and ongoing use of a programme such as this.
Setting the scene involves two main areas of preparation:
1. Advertising the time and day of the week when the Ciunas session is to be held as well as clearly stating the venue.
2. Creating a prayerful environment, by having the session in a quiet space free from distractions and setting up a focus such as an altar with some religious symbols (e.g.statue/picture, Holy Water and flowers).
The group will be guided through the initial session by the Ciunas CD as follows (tracks):
1. Church Bells
2. The Sign of the Cross
3. Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be
4. Hymn: Holy God
5. Hail Holy Queen
6. Hymn: I’ll Sing a Hymn to Mary
8. Hymn: Hail Queen of Heaven
9. O Angel of God & Blessed Michael
10. Hymn: Faith of our Fathers
11. Personal Intentions
12. Prayer of St Francis
13. Hymn: Christ be Near
14. Church Bells
The Personal Intentions (No.11) takes the form of quiet music so that participants can pray silently or call out intentions to be prayed for by the entire group.
The church bells provide a definite beginning and ending to the session.
The CDs also provide a further variety of sessions that can be used in different ways or on different occasions. CDl has two parts; CD2 has six shorter parts specific to morning/night prayers, the sick, after Holy Communion, Our Lady; a Latin benediction is also included.
A Ciunas DVD based on the sound track of the CDs with familiar or scenic locations is also available for purchase and can be enjoyed by an individual or by a small group of Nursing Home residents. This also adds to their spiritual enrichment.
The Ciunas materials with an accompanying booklet costing €30 (for the complete set) are available from Sonas ape www.sonasapc.ie or by ringing Myriam at 01 2608138. Ciunas is also available from the Knock Shrine Bookshop.
Sonas ape has also produced an Ecumenical Liturgical Prayer service for residents of any Christian tradition. Called The Serenity Spirituality Sessions’, this prayerful experience needs a facilitator to implement it. Serenity comes as a box set of three prepared sessions with a fourth open session (with introductions only); also a booklet and a How-to DVD. The package costs €80 and is also available from the Sonas ape office as above.”
(re-produced by kind permission of the Editor ‘Intercom’ Sept. 2015)