Communion to Sick Brings Peace, Says Cardinal

President of the Pontifical Health Council Promotes Viaticum

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MURCIA, Spain, NOV. 11, 2005 ( Communion administered to the dying gives spiritual strength, and should not be avoided out of fear of death, says the president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers.

In an address written for the 1st International University Eucharistic Congress, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán delineated the reasons why administering viaticum, Communion given to someone approaching death, is an important practice.

The congress is being held until Sunday at the Catholic University of St. Anthony in Murcia.

«Many have come to think that to call a priest for the anointing of the sick and to take viaticum to them is more or less to call the gravedigger,» wrote the cardinal in his address, read by Bishop Cipriano Calderón, retired vice president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.

«There is fear of death,» he said, «as well as a fear of all that signals its encroachment.»

The administration of viaticum is seen as «the prologue to the darkness of death,» wrote the cardinal, and «something that wounds the educated sensibility of the man of today.»

Viaticum is life

And yet, the cardinal added, in the viaticum the person «receives the medicine to overcome death with the greatest irruption of life.»

According to the cardinal, the Eucharist received as viaticum is the «union between the painful antecedents of a lifetime that herald death and death itself with the sufferings and death of Christ.»

«In the Eucharist received as viaticum we are in full and intimate union with Christ who dies each one of our deaths, but who does not die them in the darkness of annihilation but in the luminosity of the resurrection,» he wrote.

Cardinal Barragán continued: «Viaticum is Christ dead and risen; it is the fullness of time for each one of us in death, not a feared and rejected death, but a loving death of configuration with the Lord Jesus, dead and risen.

«Viaticum is the definitive guarantee of peace for each one of us at the moment of death.»

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