Friday next, Feb. 11, is World Day of the Sick. It's also the
Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. Anybody who has ever been to Lourdes
knows why it is the special day of those who share the Cross
of the Lord in the form of sickness. For some it is life-long;
it takes many forms - pain in varying degrees, depression, anxiety.
Every bodily organ is vulnerable. Even those who enjoy and boast
of enjoying robust health know that one day sickness will win
the battle. So many hospitals are full to the brim.
'World Day of the Sick' was introduced by Pope John Paul in
1993 and he said at the time that he hoped that this day would
be "an intense moment of prayer and a call for everyone
to recognise in the face of our sick brothers and sisters, the
Holy Face of Christ, who, in suffering, died and rising again,
carried out the salvation of humanity". Each year the international
event is held in a different continent. This year it will take
place in Africa. The focus of WORLD DAY OF THE SICK on Fri.
Feb. 11 is on AIDS.
AIDS is one of the most devastating epidemics of our times.
Journalists are going back to the Black Death of the 14th. Century
for a parallel. Every day 6,000 people die in Africa from Aids.
Two million die every year. It is the principal cause of death
in the 15 to 50 age band. It is spreading rapidly to other countries,
including our own. My sister, who is working among the victims,
tells me that so many children are left in the care of grandparents;
often with nobody to care for them. It is one of the most serious
diseases threatening humanity to-day, and one for which there
is no cure. The Catholic Church is in the forefront in caring
for Aids victims and their families in Africa.
This week we must pray for the victims and their families,
and that remedies will be found. We pray too for the dedicated
doctors, nurses, chaplains and staff who care for the sick,
as well as for those who do so at home.
This coming weekend might be an appropriate time to visit those
in hospital and in Nursing Homes.
Ash Wed, Feb. 9. It's a day of Fast and Abstinence. Those over
18 are bound by the law of fasting until their 60th. year, while
all those over 14 are bound by the law of abstinence. Fasting
means that the amount of food we eat is considerably reduced.
Abstinence means that we give up a particular kind of food or
drink, or form of amusement.. In fact every Friday during Lent
is a day of penance. One could choose their own form of penance,
such as abstaining from meat or some other food, or alcohol,
doing a work of charity, such as visiting one who is sick or
helping one who is poor. going to Mass, making a visit to the
Bl. Sacrament, praying the Stations of the Cross.