We have so much to celebrate this month and not enough days to do it! However, we do set aside February 11th this year as the 27th World Day of the Sick. This year Pope Francis has challenged us to reflect on the words of Jesus to His Apostles- “You received without payment; give without payment.” (Mt.10:8) This year the city of Calcutta India was chosen as the host city for World Day of the Sick and St. Teresa of Calcutta is highlighted as a model of charity who made God’s love for the poor and sick visible.
In our prayers for those who are suffering with illness, infirmity, and/or disability, and in our thanksgiving for those who give so much of themselves to provide them the care they need and deserve, we are called to dwell upon the presence of God so evident in them. A merciful God who is the source of hope and strength in their lives in their times of greatest weakness, pain and vulnerability. This year our hospital chaplains – priests, deacons, religious sisters and lay ministers- will offer special prayer services for the patients they encounter as well as for the staff and volunteers who care for them each day at all of our South Jersey hospitals. This power of prayer unites us all in our Christian call to care for those who are sick and to pray to Mary for Her intercession to Her Son, Jesus, for the touch of His healing hands of mercy and love. Bishop Sullivan will mark this day by visiting patients and staff at Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden. He will bring them a message of love, healing and support as we celebrate World Day of the Sick and the feast day of the hospital’s naming and patroness – Our Lady of Lourdes.
As we experience these winter days of February, let’s also keep heart health in the front of our minds and do all we can to keep ourselves healthy and fully alive in a spirit of love and self-giving. A spirit that truly lives in the love of St. Valentine’s Day and in the witness of compassionate caregiving for the sick. Let’s applaud and recognize those who give of themselves so generously to bring the love of Christ alive to the sick and frail elderly. And let us especially pray for our President and all leaders in government this President’s day, that they will always give witness to the dignity of each person in this great nation by their commitment to the basic human right for life and dignity for all with affordable, accessible, and quality healthcare.
So let February stand tall on our calendars as the shortest month of the year, but the month with so much to celebrate and cherish in our lives.
God bless you with peace and all good things.
By: Deacon Jerry Jablonowski, Executive Director, VITALity Catholic Healthcare Services