A Catholic Monthly Magazine

World Day of the Sick (12 Feb)

The experience of sickness makes us feel fragile, and it makes us feel in need of others. Not alone, not alone. “Sickness raises the question of life’s meaning, which we bring before God in faith. In seeking a new and deeper direction in our lives, we may not find an immediate answer”. Saint John Paul II indicated, beginning with his own personal experience, the path of this quest. It is not a matter of turning in on oneself, but on the contrary, of opening up to a greater love: “If one becomes a sharer in the sufferings of Christ, this happens because Christ has opened his suffering to man, because he himself in his redemptive suffering has become, in a certain sense, a sharer in all human sufferings. Man, discovering through faith the redemptive suffering of Christ, also discovers in it his own sufferings; he rediscovers them, through faith, enriched with a new content and a new meaning” (Apostolic Letter, Salvifici doloris, 11 February 1984, 20). 

One must never “forget the uniqueness of each patient, his or her dignity and frailties”. It is the person in his or her entirety who is in need of care: body, mind, affections, freedom and will, spiritual life... Care cannot be divided; because the human being cannot be divided. We could – paradoxically – save the body and lose humanity. 

The saints who cared for the sick always followed the Master’s teaching: heal the wounds of body and soul; pray and act for physical and spiritual healing together. This time of the pandemic is teaching us to view illness as a global and not a merely individual phenomenon.

I turn a grateful thought to all those who in their life and work are close to the sick every day. To the relatives and friends who assist their loved ones with affection and share in their joys and hopes, sufferings and anguish… I assure all these people of my remembrance in prayer, so that the Lord may grant them the capacity to listen to the sick, to be patient with them, to take care of them integrally, in body, spirit and relationships. And I pray in a special way for all the sick, in every corner of the world, especially for those who are most alone and have no access to healthcare services. Dear brothers and sisters, I entrust you to the maternal protection of Mary, Health of the Sick. And to you, and to those who take care of you, I send my heartfelt Blessing.

From the video message for the World Day of the Sick: Meaning, Goals and Challenges”, 10 February, 2022

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