VATICAN CITY, OCT. 9, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry is urging sick people to offer their sufferings for the holiness of priests.
Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski made this appeal in an Oct. 1 letter sent to the sick and suffering and also to priests who care for them.
The prelate noted that the Year for Priests will end with the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in June 2010, the year when the pontifical council will celebrate the 25th anniversary of its creation.
“Because of this providential anniversary, I am near to each one of you and I invite you, dear sick brothers and sisters, to unceasingly address your prayers and the offering up of your sufferings to the Lord of life for the holiness of your well loved priests, so that they can with devotion and pastoral charity perform the ministry that is entrusted to them by Christ, the physician of bodies and souls,” he said.
The archbishop also recalled that during the Year for Priests, the faithful can gain indulgences by praying for priests.
John Paul II’s canonization
Archbishop Zimowski entrusted another intention to the prayers of the sick: a pilgrimage for hospital chaplains. The pilgrimage is set for next April and will bring the chaplains to Lourdes and Ars.
Moreover, he entrusted to them “the Church which needs your prayers and sufferings, the person of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, and all the bishops and priests in the world, who strive every day for your sanctification.”
“I ask from you a special prayer for priests who are sick and afflicted in their bodies who every day experience, like you, the weight of pain, together with the force of saving grace which comforts and heals the soul,” the Vatican official added. “Pray also for the beatification and canonization of the Servant of God John Paul II! Pray with insistence for holy priestly and religious vocations!”
Archbishop Zimowski also reflected on the figure of the priest who cares for those who are sick.
“A priest at the bedside of a sick person represents Christ himself, the Divine Physician, who is not indifferent to the fate of those who suffer,” he said. “Indeed, through the sacraments of the Church, administered by a priest, Jesus Christ offers to a sick person healing through reconciliation and the forgiveness of sins, through anointing with holy oil and lastly in the Eucharist, in the viaticum in which Christ himself becomes, as Giovanni Leonardi used to say, ‘the medicine of immortality.’ […]
“In the person of the priest is thus present at the side of the sick person Christ himself who forgives, heals, comforts, takes that person by the hand and says: ‘I am the resurrection and the life; who believes in me, even though he dies, will live; whoever lives and believes in me will never die.'”
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On ZENIT’s Web page:
Full text of letter: www.zenit.org/article-27127?l=english