A Filipino prelate has called on every family to ensure that they remain a cradle of love and understanding when tending to the sick.
“I want to acknowledge the great role and value of the family. For the sick, physical healing is not only what’s important, they also need attention, care and understanding from their loved ones,” Bishop Joel Baylon of Legazpi said on Feb. 9 in a pastoral message ahead of the World Day of the Sick.
The Catholic Church celebrates the World Day of the Sick, which falls on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes on Feb. 11.
St. John Paul II, who introduced the special day in 1992, called it a special time for prayer, for offering one’s suffering “for the sick and good of the Church.”
Bishop Baylon said every sick person should know they have a family that cares and loves them.
“They need to know that their family cares. According to Pope Francis, the sick not only need physical healing but also care for holistic recuperation,” he said.
Bishop Baylon said that although it was difficult to take care of an ailing family member, prayers and presence were essential to make their suffering bearable.
“It’s not easy to take care of a family member with a lingering illness. But people must stand by the sick and make them feel they are still loved and being taken care of,” he added.
Members of the clergy usually administer the Anointing of the Sick sacrament and hear confessions during the World Day of the Sick but will be prevented from doing so this year due to quarantine protocols.
Despite the government restrictions, Bishop Baylon said the Catholic Church’s mission for the sick would continue.
“We know that prayer is still an effective tool in all church missions. We know that the grace of God still flows and is not limited by physical and actual presence,” he said.
Bishop Baylon has urged fellow clergymen to celebrate Masses for the sick and for churchgoers to visit their sick family members if circumstances allow.
He also urged churchgoers to offer acts of mercy like donating to charities that tend the sick.
“Pope Francis said that prayer is not the cure to forget our challenges in life but a means for us to be responsible to our poor neighbors,” he said.
Church groups thanked the bishop, saying his comments were a useful reminder of a common duty that has even greater bearing amid the pandemic.
“We need to be more innovative and to utilize technology to aid the sick this Feb. 11. We hope to be able to donate things to hospitals for them,” Caritas member Dennis Domingo told UCA News.
He said prayer rallies would be held online specifically for the sick.
“We will hold an online rosary for the intention of the sick. Our nation is also sick. We need healing as one people and a nation,” he added.