A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Francis Speaks to the Sick; Reflects on the Creed

Francis & GuadalupeTo the sick:
be a spiritual resource and an asset to the Church

On 9 November last year, the Pope addressed seven thousand members of the Italian National Union for the Transport of the Sick to Lourdes and International Shrines (UNITALSI), an association which has for 110 years been dedicated to the sick and frail, as follows:

The poor, even those who are poor in terms of health, are a wealth for the Church, and you, in UNITALSI, along with other ecclesiastical bodies, have received the gift and the commitment of gathering this richness, of helping to recognise its value, and not only for the Church herself but for society as a whole.

Today’s cultural and social context tends to hide physical frailty, to consider it as merely a problem, which requires resignation and pity, or at times the rejection of people. UNITALSI is called to be a prophetic sign and to go against this worldly logic, helping the suffering to be protagonists in society, in the Church and also in the association itself. … This means fully valuing the presence and the witness of frail and suffering people, not only as the focus of the work of evangelisation, but as active subjects themselves of this apostolic action.Hands

Do not think of yourselves solely as the objects of solidarity and charity but rather as fully integrated in the life and the mission of the Church. You have your place, a specific role in … all ecclesial environments. Your presence … your prayer, the daily offering of your sufferings in union with those of Jesus crucified for the salvation of the world … are a spiritual resource, an asset to every Christian community. Do not be ashamed of being a precious treasure to the Church.

Source: VIS, 9 November 2013

Reflecting on the Creed:
“I believe in one Baptism for the forgiveness of sin”

Baptism is linked to our faith in the remission of sins. The Sacrament of Penance or Confession is, indeed, like a ‘second Baptism’, which always refers to the first to consolidate or renew it. In this sense, the day of our Baptism is the beginning of a path of conversion which lasts throughout our lives, and which is continually supported by the Sacrament of Penance. When we go to confess our weaknesses, our sins, we ask Jesus Christ for forgiveness … but we also go to renew our Baptism with this forgiveness. Confession is not a torture chamber, it is a celebration of the day of Baptism.

‘Baptism’ literally means ‘immersion’. This sacrament constitutes a true spiritual immersion in the death of Christ, from which we emerge as new creatures. It is a cleansing for regeneration and enlightenment. Regeneration because it puts into effect the birth from the water and the Spirit without which no-one may enter the kingdom of heaven, and enlightenment since, through Baptism, the human person is filled with the grace of Christ, ‘the true light that gives light to everyone’ and dissipates the shadows of sin. By virtue of this gift, the baptised is himself called to become ‘light’ to his brothers, especially for those who find themselves in the shadows and do not perceive any glimmer of light on the horizon of their lives

In the Sacrament of Baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all forms of punishment for sin. By Baptism we open the door to a new form of life that is not oppressed by the weight of a negative past, but instead already resonates with the beauty and goodness of the Kingdom of Heaven. It is a powerful intervention of God’s mercy in our lives, for our salvation. But this salvific intervention does not remove the weakness from our human nature; it does not take away our responsibility to ask forgiveness whenever we err.

And I cannot be baptised twice, three times, four, but I can go to confession and when I do so, I renew the grace of Baptism. It is as if it were a second Baptism. The Lord Jesus, Who is so good, and Who never tires of forgiving me. Listen! Baptism opens the door to the Church … but when the door narrows a little because of our weaknesses or our sins, confession helps us to open it because it is like a second Baptism, which forgives us all and enlightens us, helping us to go ahead joyfully in the light of the Lord. Because life is about living in the joy of Jesus Christ and it is a grace from the Lord.

Source: VIS, 13 November 2013

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