Anatomy Lab Blessing 

The start of the Structure of the Human Body course is a rite of passage for all medical students, across generations and institutions. As a way to mark this important milestone for first year medical students, the Health Sciences Campus Ministry team offers a blessing – for the students, instructors, cadavers, and lab spaces – at both the beginning and end of the Human Anatomy course.  

The communal reflection time includes music, readings from sacred scripture, prayers of intention, ritual, and spoken reflections. At the beginning of the course, each of the cadavers are individually blessed and students have the opportunity to express their hopes for learning and growth throughout the semester. As the course draws to a close, student representatives share a spoken reflection on the meaning of the course for their education and vocation, and a single white rose is placed on each cadaver bay as a symbol of gratitude for the “silent teachers” who offered themselves and their bodies in order to shape future physicians.    

Past readings at the ritual reflections have included: 

  • Loyola University’s mission statement 
  • Psalm 139   
  • Psalm 23 
  • Ecclesiastes 3 

 

Prayers of Intercession Ritual 

We remember that the cadavers before us are more than dead bodies, more than just lab specimens of skin and bone, organs, nerves and sinews that we will trace and try to understand and memorize. They each have a history, a story – a life journey that was special and sacred.   

      For the fullness of life of these individuals, we remember: we give thanks.   

We are mindful that these were human beings just like us; that once they lived and loved, laughed and cried. With care, we consider that each were unique individuals. We ask: what were their passions and dreams, what were their struggles and hardships? 

       We may not know the answers, but for the uniqueness they each brought to the world, we remember: we give thanks.    

We acknowledge that, at various points during each of our human journeys, we contemplate the meaning of our life, as well as what it might mean for us to die. For the people whose bodies are before us today, we marvel that, when they came to the end of their days, they thought enough of others to offer themselves for our good.   

       For this vulnerability and selflessness, we remember: we give thanks.  

We are aware that every person is able to make a difference in the lives of others. We have each felt a calling to the profession of medicine, and hope to serve others through this vocation. The people who have given their bodies in service to us will help us to live out our calling and become the physicians God has called us to be.   

        For this act of self-giving service, we remember: we give thanks.    

We give thanks for them. They are here for us. Their generosity will benefit us more than they could have known. During these next twelve weeks they will be our teachers — silent teachers, but speaking eloquently to us about how the human body is constructed, helping us to understand how it functions, and to appreciate its wonder.      

       For these teachers of wisdom and wonder, we remember: we give thanks.