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Message of Asian bishops’ president for World Day of the Sick 2019

Cardinal Charles Bo of Myanmar, the president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC), has issued a message for the special celebration of World Day of the Sick in Kolkata, the city of St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Mother Teresa of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta). 

The Asian bishops’ president is urging believers in the continent to continue upholding the sacred duty and tradition of caring and respecting the elderly, the infirm and the helpless, saying it is a barometer of society’s health. 

Cardinal Charles Bo, the president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC), made the exhortation in a message he released on Sunday in view of the upcoming international celebration of the Catholic Church’s World Day of the Sick.

The annual day was instituted by St. John Paul II on 13 May 1992, designating its celebration to the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, February 11 each year.   The purpose is to draw attention to the sick and their caregivers and the redemptive act of human suffering.

Kolkata – city of Mother Teresa

Each year, the day is marked in a special way in a place chosen by the Pope who issues a message for the occasion.   The 27th World Day of the Sick will be celebrated in the eastern Indian city of  Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), the city of St. Mother Teresa

In his message for this year’s observance, Pope Francis urges believers to promote a culture of generosity, noting that the joy of generous giving is a barometer of the health of a Christian.

The theme of this year’s World Day of the Sick has as its theme, “You received without payment; give without payment”. (Mt 10:8).

Recalling Kolkata as the “karma bhumi” (workplace) of St.Teresa of Calcutta, Card. Bo says that this year’s theme was the mantra that Jesus gave His disciples “before sending them forth to spread the good news of the kingdom of God.”

Caring for sick, infirm – a sacred duty

“Allow me to remind myself and encourage all believers to uphold the traditional values embedded in the psyche of our varied ethnic groups in this vast Asian continent which considers caring for the elderly and infirm as a sacred duty of respect and devotion,” explains the cardinal, the Archbishop of Yangon, Myanmar. 

“Our traditional customs of reaching out in solidarity to those in need especially those who are sick, helpless or fall victims to accidents of calamitous emergencies,” he says, “must continue to be embraced as a culture of generosity – a barometer denoting societal health.”

Card. Bo, who assumed his leadership of the FABC on Jan. 1, holds Mary as a model, saying she set out to be at the side of her cousin Elizabeth in her hour of need.  He wishes that she be an inspiration and example to us “to reach out as visible signs of God’s love for the poor and the sick.”

He wishes that Mother Teresa, who showed what it means “give till it hurts”, also be an inspiration and model in giving our time and talents in caring for the sick. 

The 70-year old cardinal expressed his gratitude and encouragement to volunteers and associations who help the sick, and all those organize campaigns for blood, tissue and organ donation.

Pope Francis on Dec. 11 appointed Bangladeshi Cardinal Patrick D’Rozario as his envoy to the special celebration of the World Day of the Sick in Kolkata. 

This year’s World Day of the Sick will be a 3-day event, starting in Kolkata on February 9 and will culminate on February 11 at the historical Marian Shrine at Bandel on the banks of the Hooghly River some 60 kms north of Kolkata.

The first World Day of the Sick was marked in 1993 at the shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in southern France, one of the world’s most famous Marian shrines.  Since then, the day has been observed all over the world with a special celebration in a particular place each year. 

According to Cardinal Peter Turkson, the Prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, that organizes the World Day of the Sick, Kolkata was chosen as a venue mainly “in light of the experience of St. Teresa of Calcutta”.

This is only the second time a place in India has been chosen.  The first was Vailankanni in 2003. – Robin Gomes, Vatican News, 27Jan2019

Cathedral parish celebrates Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick on World Day of the Sick

Abp Wong and his assistants anoint those who are sick in the pews in conjunction with World Day of the Sick, Sacred Heart Cathedral Karamunsing, 11 Feb 2018.

KOTA KINABALU – Sacred Heart Cathedral parish here observed World Day of the Sick by celebrating the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick on Sunday afternoon, 11 Feb 2018.

Over 200 parishioners turned up for the celebration presided by Archbishop John Wong.

In his homily Abp Wong touched on the message of Pope Francis on the role of Mary as Mother and refuge of those who are sick.  He also touched on the gospel of the day – the healing of the leper out of compassion by Jesus.

Then the prelate, together with his three assistants, went among those who are sick, aged (above 70 years), terminally ill, or preparing for any major operation and anointed them on the forehead and hands.

The rite ended with a blessing-prayer (sprinkling of holy water) on those who have minor complaints or ailments.

Meanwhile, in his Angelus address at the Vatican, Pope Francis shared his reflection on the gospel.

That Jesus touches the leper is “the most disturbing fact,”  Pope Francis said. “Touching a leper meant you were infected, interiorly as well as spiritually.”

Pope Francis then made an important observation: “In this case the impurity does not flow from the leper to Jesus to transmit the disease, but from Jesus to the leper to purify him.”

Jesus’ compassion and audacity are admirable because he is consumed with “the desire to free that man from the curse that oppresses him.” In our case, it is “sin that makes us unclean.” So the Pope asked the crowd to pause and to beg the Lord for the gift of being cleansed from “the diseases of the heart from which we need to be cleansed, turning to Jesus like the leper did: ‘If you want to, you can cleanse me!’ ”

February 11 was the 26th World Day of the Sick, a commemoration instituted by St John Paul II. The World Day of the Sick takes place each year on the memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes.

The title of Pope Francis’s message for the day is “Mater Ecclesiae [Mother of the Church]: ‘Behold, your son… Behold, your mother. And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.’“ (Jn 19:26-27)

In his letter instituting the commemoration, St John Paul wrote that the day should be “a special time of prayer and sharing, of offering one’s suffering for the good of the Church and of reminding everyone to see in his sick brother or sister the face of Christ who, by suffering, dying, and rising, achieved the salvation of mankind.” – kksoccom/vatican news/cwn

Pope’s message for the Sick focuses on Mary’s maternal vocation

The 2018 message of Pope Francis for the World Day of the Sick focuses on Mary’s maternal vocation. Below is the full text of the message.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Church’s service to the sick and those who care for them must continue with renewed vigour, in fidelity to the Lord’s command (cf. Lk 9:2-6; Mt 10:1-8; Mk 6:7-13) and following the eloquent example of her Founder and Master.

The theme for this year’s Day of the Sick is provided by the words that Jesus spoke from the Cross to Mary, his Mother, and to John: “Woman, behold your son … Behold your mother.  And from that hour the disciple took her into his home” (Jn 19:26-27).

1.  The Lord’s words brilliantly illuminate the mystery of the Cross, which does not represent a hopeless tragedy, but rather the place where Jesus manifests his glory and shows his love to the end.  That love in turn was to become the basis and rule for the Christian community and the life of each disciple.

Before all else, Jesus’ words are the source of Mary’s maternal vocation for all humanity.  Mary was to be, in particular, the Mother of her Son’s disciples, caring for them and their journey through life.  As we know, a mother’s care for her son or daughter includes both the material and spiritual dimensions of their upbringing.

The unspeakable pain of the Cross pierces Mary’s soul (cf. Lk 2:35), but does not paralyse her.  Quite the opposite.  As the Lord’s Mother, a new path of self-giving opens up before her.  On the Cross, Jesus showed his concern for the Church and all humanity, and Mary is called to share in that same concern.  In describing the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the Acts of the Apostles show that Mary began to carry out this role in the earliest community of the Church.  A role that never ceases.

2. John, the beloved disciple, is a figure of the Church, the messianic people.  He must acknowledge Mary as his Mother.  In doing so, he is called to take her into his home, to see in her the model of all discipleship, and to contemplate the maternal vocation that Jesus entrusted to her, with all that it entails: a loving Mother who gives birth to children capable of loving as Jesus commands.  That is why Mary’s maternal vocation to care for her children is entrusted to John and to the Church as a whole.  The entire community of disciples is included in Mary’s maternal vocation.

3. John, as a disciple who shared everything with Jesus, knows that the Master wants to lead all people to an encounter with the Father.  He can testify to the fact that Jesus met many people suffering from spiritual sickness due to pride (cf. Jn 8:31-39) and from physical ailments (cf. Jn 5:6).  He bestowed mercy and forgiveness upon all, and healed the sick as a sign of the abundant life of the Kingdom, where every tear will be wiped away.  Like Mary, the disciples are called to care for one another, but not only that.  They know that Jesus’ heart is open to all and excludes no one.  The Gospel of the Kingdom must be proclaimed to all, and the charity of Christians must be directed to all, simply because they are persons, children of God.

4. The Church’s maternal vocation to the needy and to the sick has found concrete expression throughout the two thousand years of her history in an impressive series of initiatives on behalf of the sick.  This history of dedication must not be forgotten.  It continues to the present day throughout the world.  In countries where adequate public health care systems exist, the work of Catholic religious congregations and dioceses and their hospitals is aimed not only at providing quality medical care, but also at putting the human person at the centre of the healing process, while carrying out scientific research with full respect for life and for Christian moral values.  In countries where health care systems are inadequate or non-existent, the Church seeks to do what she can to improve health, eliminate infant mortality and combat widespread disease.  Everywhere she tries to provide care, even when she is not in a position to offer a cure.  The image of the Church as a “field hospital” that welcomes all those wounded by life is a very concrete reality, for in some parts of the world, missionary and diocesan hospitals are the only institutions providing necessary care to the population.

5. The memory of this long history of service to the sick is cause for rejoicing on the part of the Christian community, and especially those presently engaged in this ministry.  Yet we must look to the past above all to let it enrich us.  We should learn the lesson it teaches us about the self-sacrificing generosity of many founders of institutes in the service of the infirm, the creativity, prompted by charity, of many initiatives undertaken over the centuries, and the commitment to scientific research as a means of offering innovative and reliable treatments to the sick.  This legacy of the past helps us to build a better future, for example, by shielding Catholic hospitals from the business mentality that is seeking worldwide to turn health care into a profit-making enterprise, which ends up discarding the poor.  Wise organisation and charity demand that the sick person be respected in his or her dignity, and constantly kept at the centre of the therapeutic process.  This should likewise be the approach of Christians who work in public structures; through their service, they too are called to bear convincing witness to the Gospel.

6. Jesus bestowed upon the Church his healing power:  “These signs will accompany those who believe… they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover (Mk 16:17-18).  In the Acts of the Apostles, we read accounts of the healings worked by Peter (cf. Acts3:4-8) and Paul (cf. Acts 14:8-11).  The Church’s mission is a response to Jesus’ gift, for she knows that she must bring to the sick the Lord’s own gaze, full of tenderness and compassion.  Health care ministry will always be a necessary and fundamental task, to be carried out with renewed enthusiasm by all, from parish communities to the most largest healthcare institutions.  We cannot forget the tender love and perseverance of many families in caring for their chronically sick or severely disabled children, parents and relatives.  The care given within families is an extraordinary witness of love for the human person; it needs to be fittingly acknowledged and supported by suitable policies.  Doctors and nurses, priests, consecrated men and women, volunteers, families and all those who care for the sick, take part in this ecclesial mission.  It is a shared responsibility that enriches the value of the daily service given by each.

7. To Mary, Mother of tender love, we wish to entrust all those who are ill in body and soul, that she may sustain them in hope.  We ask her also to help us to be welcoming to our sick brothers and sisters.  The Church knows that she requires a special grace to live up to her evangelical task of serving the sick.  May our prayers to the Mother of God see us united in an incessant plea that every member of the Church may live with love the vocation to serve life and health.  May the Virgin Mary intercede for this Twenty-sixth World Day of the Sick; may she help the sick to experience their suffering in communion with the Lord Jesus; and may she support all those who care for them.  To all, the sick, to healthcare workers and to volunteers, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 26 November 2017
Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

FRANCIS

————————————

Pope John Paul II initiated the day in 1992 to encourage people to pray for those who suffer from illness and for their caregivers. The Pope himself had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s a year before, in 1991, and it is considered that his own illness was impetus for his designation of the day.

World Day of the Sick was first observed on 11 February 1993. February 11 is also the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, a name given to the Virgin Mary in honour of the apparitions that were said to have been seen in and around Lourdes, France, by a young girl called Bernadette Soubirous. The Church canonised Bernadette as a saint several years later.

Pope Francis: Healthcare is part of the Church’s mission

Pope Francis greets people with disabilities following the General Audience on 15 Nov 2017. Credit: Daniel Ibez, CNA

VATICAN CITY – Just as Jesus healed people during his earthly mission, care for the sick is a mission the entire Church is called to take part in, Pope Francis said in a message published Monday for the World Day of the Sick.

“Jesus bestowed upon the Church his healing power…The Church’s mission is a response to Jesus’ gift, for she knows that she must bring to the sick the Lord’s own gaze, full of tenderness and compassion,” the Pope wrote in a message published on 11 Dec 2017.

“Health care ministry will always be a necessary and fundamental task, to be carried out with renewed enthusiasm by all, from parish communities to the largest healthcare institutions.”

“Doctors and nurses, priests, consecrated men and women, volunteers, families and all those who care for the sick, take part in this ecclesial mission.”

The World Day of the Sick will be celebrated on Sunday, 11 Feb 2018, with the theme: “Mater Ecclesiae: ‘Behold, your son… Behold, your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home (John 19:26-27).”

Reflecting on the scripture passage from which the theme was taken, Francis explained how John, as a close disciple of Jesus, could testify to the fact that Christ healed many people suffering from both spiritual and physical illnesses.

Jesus, he said, “healed the sick as a sign of the abundant life of the Kingdom, where every tear will be wiped away.”

The disciples know that Jesus’ heart is “open to all and excludes no one. The Gospel of the Kingdom must be proclaimed to all, and the charity of Christians must be directed to all, simply because they are persons, children of God.”

Pointing to the Church’s long history of care for the sick, including innumerable initiatives, Francis said we cannot forget this “history of dedication,” which continues “to the present day throughout the world.”

In countries with adequate public health care systems, Catholic religious congregations and dioceses and their hospitals provide quality medical care that puts the human person at the centre, also carrying out scientific research that fully respects life and Christian moral values, he said.

And in countries with inadequate, or even non-existent, health care systems, the Catholic Church works to improve health, eliminate infant mortality and combat widespread disease.

“In some parts of the world, missionary and diocesan hospitals are the only institutions providing necessary care to the population,” he noted.

This is all a cause for rejoicing within the Christian community, the pope stressed, ” but we also need to take note that long legacy and use it to help us build a better future. Especially in cases where Catholic hospitals fall prey to the business mentality that seeks to turn health care into a profit-making enterprise, which ends up discarding the poor.”

“Wise organisation and charity demand that the sick person be respected in his or her dignity, and constantly kept at the centre of the therapeutic process,” he said.

“May our prayers to the Mother of God see us united in an incessant plea that every member of the Church may live with love the vocation to serve life and health.” – CNA/EWTN News

Sandakan celebrates World Day of the Sick

SANDAKAN – Over 300 parishioners turned up for the inaugural Mass for the Sick and Anointing of the Sick on 11 Feb 2016 at St Joseph’s Church here.

The World Day of the Sick was instituted by Pope St John Paul II in 1992, on February 11, and is ‘a special time of prayer and sharing, and of offering one’s suffering for the good of the Church’

Some parishioners came on wheelchairs, while others came with walking aids. There were parents who brought children with special needs, as well as those who accompanied the elderly.

Some nurses and a doctor were on hand to assist in case of emergency.

The celebration of the Mass was delayed because a large number of faithful went to confession before the Mass.

Father Christopher Ireneus presided over the Mass concelebrated with Father Stanley Matakim.

In his homily, Fr Ireneus urged the faithful to “Offer yourselves, your pain and your sickness to God so that you may find joy in your hearts. Thank God for it.”  He also told them to have recourse to Mary that through her intercession they may obtain sustenance and strength from Jesus.

 

After Mass, all adjourned for a simple fellowship outside the Church, which was prepared by members of the BEC. – Raymond Wong

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