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Prayer Intention for July: Pastoral Care of the Sick

July 1, 2024

From the Office for Social Ministry

We pray that the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick confer to those who receive it and their loved ones the power of the Lord and become ever more a visible sign of compassion and hope for all.” - Pope Francis’s Prayer Intention for July 2024: For the Pastoral Care of the Sick

As summer brings warmth, love, and joy into the lives of many, it also can contrast with the reality for those who are sick and alone, feeling isolated and forgotten. Pope Francis’s special prayer intention for the month of July focuses on the pastoral care of the sick and how we can be more compassionate with those who are suffering from illness. In his message titled "It is not good that man should be alone: Healing the Sick by Healing Relationships" for the 2024 XXXII World Day for the Sick, Our Holy Father reminds us of a central truth–that we were all welcomed into the world, made for love, and called to fraternity and communion; “this project of communion is so deeply rooted in the human heart.” It sustains us, especially during illness and vulnerability: “It is the first therapy we must adopt to heal society's diseases in which we live.” Pastoral care of the sick involves us in caring for relationships with God, family, friends, healthcare workers, all creation. Pope Francis asks, "Can this be done?" and answers with a focal point of his work Fratelli Tutti - Brothers and Sisters All: "Yes, it can be done, and we are all called to ensure it happens." We are all called to be more like “the Good Samaritan” who slows down, draws near, and tenderly cares for the suffering stranger.

Pope Francis passionately reminds us that "The sick, the vulnerable, and the poor are at the heart of the Church and must be at the heart of our human concern and pastoral attention…may we never forget this!"  Through the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, the Church pastorally accompanies those suffering illness, offering a visible sign of God’s unwavering merciful love and carrying out Christ’s compassionate healing mission. As other popes before him, Francis speaks about participating in Christian pastoral care with and for the sick as “a presence, listening, dialogue, sharing, a source of strength amid pain and weakness, hope amid despair, and as an occasion of joyful encounter.”

Our Holy Father message emphasizes that compassionate pastoral presence can bring light into lives, making a significant difference, especially during times of feeling isolation. To those feeling the weight of illness and loneliness, Pope Francis encourages everyone to embrace their natural need for human connection and love, assuring them that their desire for intimacy and companionship is nothing to hide. He urges us all to slow down and prioritize what truly matters in life. As he so beautifully puts it: "Do not be ashamed of your longing for closeness and tenderness! Do not conceal it, and never think that you are a burden on others. The condition of the sick urges all of us to step back from the hectic pace of our lives in order to rediscover ourselves."

As we make time to enjoy this summer month, may we also make time to share the warmth of our love, the light of our joy, the communion of our compassionate presence through pastoral care of the sick. Everyone can participate in this heartfelt ministry through a variety of parish liturgical and outreach activities that include both prayer and action. The Holy Father has entrusted his monthly prayer intentions to the Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network, encouraging Christians to respond to the Pope's appeal and deepen their daily prayer. For more information, please visit www.popesprayer.va. For the full text of Pope Francis's inspiring message for the 2024 World Day for the Sick, please visit: www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/sick/documents/20240110-giornata-malato.html. Mahalo.