World Day of the Sick was instituted by Pope St John Paul II May 13, 1992 and celebrated February 11, the liturgical memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes.
This year’s observance which has as its theme: “You have but one teacher and you are all brothers” (Mt 23:8) serves as a trust-based relationship guide on caring for the sick.
Pope Francis in his message for 2021 stated the Day: “…. is an opportunity to devote special attention to the sick and to those who provide them with assistance and care both in healthcare institutions and within families and communities. We think in particular of those who have suffered, and continue to suffer, the effects of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic. To all, and especially to the poor and the marginalized, I express my spiritual closeness and assure them of the Church’s loving concern”.
Chair of the Catholic Commission for Social Justice, Leela Ramdeen, was asked: What action steps can Catholics take for World Day of the Sick? She provided the following suggestions:
*Works of Mercy. The Corporal Works of Mercy are: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, visit the imprisoned and bury the dead.
“There are many sick persons who are hungry, homeless, poor…Those who are sick are often forgotten or avoided. During this time of the pandemic, even if people can’t visit, you can pray and let the person know you are praying”. Ramdeen suggested persons can offer up prayers for the sick and enlist others to do the same. Make contact via telephone, text message and if it is appropriate use social media such as Zoom or video calls. Drop off a get-well card, spiritual prayer cards or send them via email, she said.
“Ensure that people encourage others to contact the sick person, not just you,” Ramdeen said.
*Give alms. Whether the person is poor or not, small gestures such as sharing fruits, juices, etc, can show care, Ramdeen said. Arrange for a priest to anoint them where necessary; have a Mass said for their speedy recovery, for God to be merciful. Caregivers should also be remembered in prayer because they can become overwhelmed in their care to the sick. —LPG