By: Michael Donohue
On Monday, February 11th, we will not only celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, but also the World Day of the Sick. Vatican Radio reports that Pope Benedict has sanctioned indulgences for this year’s observance:
Pope Benedict XVI has authorized special indulgences for Catholics worldwide on the occasion of the Catholic Church’s World Day of the Sick next month, during this Year of Faith. The annual day is observed on Feb. 11, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, and this Year of Faith it will be observed in a special way from Feb. 7-11 at the Marian shrine of Altötting, in Germany. The theme chosen by Pope Benedict for this 21st World Day of the Sick is: “Go and do likewise,” taken from the Parable of the Good Samaritan in St. Luke’s Gospel.
A decree released on Monday by the Vatican’s Apostolic Penitentiary, which deals with indulgences, said that the indulgences can be obtained by those who after the example of the Good Samaritan, in a spirit of faith and merciful attitude, engage in the service of their suffering brothers, and the sick themselves can obtain indulgences by bearing up the pain and adversity of life, raising their hearts with humble trust to God, giving open witness to faith through the way of the Gospel of suffering. The decree also spells out other ways and conditions for the indulgences. (Source)
Catholic News Service outlines the ways in which the faithful can obtain an indulgence on this occasion.
Bishop Loverde prompts all of us to take this opportunity to unite our sufferings to Christ and offer them as a prayer:
“I wish to encourage anyone who is suffering because of illness, especially if it is more painful, or advancing age, or limitations in movement or strength – I encourage each one to join that suffering to the sufferings of Our Lord Jesus Christ. In so doing, he or she is sharing in the Lord’s redemptive work, as Saint Paul reminds us: “In my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of His body, that is, the Church” (cf. Col 1:24). In this way, no suffering is wasted or becomes useless; rather, it becomes a redemptive prayer when united with Christ.”