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The World Day of the Sick

By Bishop Terry R. LaValley

Feb. 8, 2017

The 25th World Day of the Sick takes place on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, February 11, 2017.  Pope Francis writes that the commemoration of this day “gives the Church renewed spiritual energy for carrying out ever more fully that fundamental part of her mission which includes serving the poor, the infirm, the outcast, and the marginalized.” 

Suffering and illness have always troubled the human spirit.  Christians are not exempt from such pain, yet our faith helps us to grasp more deeply the mystery of suffering and to bear our pain with great courage. 
We know that Christ, who during his life often visited and healed the sick, loves and embraces those who are hurting in their pain.  Our attentiveness to those who suffer physical, psychological or emotional anguish is a mark of our Christian discipleship.  

Serving the sick is an essential dimension of what it means to be a Catholic Christian.  Like me, I’m sure you know many truly saintly persons in our parishes and families who so devotedly minister to the sick. 

Our pastoral outreach to the hurting of our North Country is extensive and so inspiring. Our visits needn’t include learned theological explanations as to why the human person suffers. 

Mere presence to another is powerful and speaks volumes to the heart. The visits become extensions of Christ’s compassion. The tender care that family members, parishioners, consecrated religious, deacons and priests offer the hurting is a sign of our compassionate solidarity. 

When one member of the Mystical Body of Christ suffers, we all suffer. (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:26).  For this reason, kindness shown toward the sick and works of charity and mutual help for the relief of every kind of human want are held in special honor. 

If one of our New Year resolutions is to participate in more concrete works of mercy through stronger devotion to Mary, the Mother of Mercies, then this Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes is a good reminder for us not to neglect

The Pope urges all the infirm and those who help them to look to Mary as “the sure sign of God’s love for every human being and a model of surrender to his will.” 

As we watch the local and national news and look at our own families, we know too well that many among us suffer the terrible affliction of substance abuse and its devastating effects on families and communities. 
At times, it is difficult to know how to help a loved one who suffers such addictions.  We want to support, but not enable.  We want to challenge, but not alienate. 

We pray that those bound by the chains of addiction be strengthened by the Lord, that God restore them to the freedom of God’s children  As we help loved ones obtain the professional assistance they need to address their addictions, we entrust their care and healing to Mary’s maternal intercession. 

This World Day of the Sick, we pray for an attentive heart and persevering love.  Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love.

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