From the February 2019 edition…
Pope Francis challenges us to remember Mother Teresa
Let Mother Teresa be your inspiration … that’s the invitation this month from Pope Francis as the Church prepares to celebrate the World Day of the Sick.
The Holy Father has chosen the diminutive saint of Calcutta as a model for all Christians in today’s world who must deal more and more with illness, infirmity, poverty and people who are outcast from society.
Special ceremonies will be held in parishes across Glasgow on the day while the main international ceremonies will take place on India on February 11 (the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes).
The Pope’s clarion call is clear: “Mother Teresa, in all aspects of her life, was a generous dispenser of divine mercy, making herself available for everyone through her welcome and defence of human life, of those unborn and those abandoned and discarded… She bowed down before those who were spent, left to die on the side of the road, seeing in them their God-given dignity; she made her voice heard before the powers of this world, so that they might recognize their guilt for the crime – the crimes! – of poverty they created. For Mother Teresa, mercy was the ‘salt’ which gave flavour to her work; it was the ‘light’ that shone in the darkness of the many who no longer had tears to shed for their poverty and suffering.”
The Pope adds: “Saint Mother Teresa helps us understand that our only measure of action must be selfless love for every human being, without distinction of language, culture, ethnicity or religion. Her example continues to guide us by opening up horizons of joy and hope for all those in need of understanding and tender love, and especially for those who suffer.”
The Pope offers support to those involved in caring for the sick and vulnerable, and he also backs blood and organ donor schemes:
He writes: “I express my gratitude and offer my encouragement to all those associations of volunteers committed to the transport and assistance of patients, and all those that organise the donation of blood, tissues and organs. I would also mention the many efforts made to raise awareness and encourage prevention.”
And he urges Catholics to consider volunteering to visit the sick, offering the gift of time to those in need…
He says: “A volunteer is a good friend with whom one can share personal thoughts and emotions; by their patient listening, volunteers make it possible for the sick to pass from being passive recipients of care to being active participants in a relationship that can restore hope and inspire openness to further treatment. Volunteer work passes on values, behaviours and ways of living born of a deep desire to be generous. It is also a means of making health care more humane.”
The Holy Father ends with the following plea: “I urge everyone, at every level, to promote the culture of generosity and of gift, which is
indispensable for overcoming the culture of profit and waste… Health is relational, dependent on interaction with others, and requiring trust, friendship and solidarity. It is a treasure that can be enjoyed fully only when it is shared. The joy of generous giving is a barometer of the health of a Christian.”
Archbishop: Give clearer witness to Christian marriage
Be faithful to the truth about marriage, but offer compassion and love to those who cannot – or will not – see its inherent value and beauty… that was the powerful plea from Archbishop Philip Tartaglia in a sermon delivered in the Cathedral last month.
The Archbishop spoke of the changes in modern society which have led to the confusion over marriage, calling on Catholics not to give up their convictions even when they are seen as counter-cultural.
He defined marriage between a man and a woman as “faithful and fruitful, enduring and loving – the sign, symbol and sacrament of the love of Jesus Christ for his Church.”
And he denounced the abuse and attacks on marriage and its supporters on social media.
The Archbishop said: “What has happened to marriage in our times? People marry, yes, and many are happily married, thank God. But marriage break-up abounds causing great sadness. Divorce is easy. Parodies of marriage, which are not what God wants, are commonplace…
“Young people are fatally confused about sexuality and gender… Our society has lost its moorings in these matters and is scrabbling about in the darkness…
“I could say that we Catholics need to give clearer witness to the beauty and wonder of Christian marriage. But even that is very difficult. You can hardly preach a homily on marriage which upholds in moderate and measured terms the teaching of the scriptures without someone complaining that you have offended them or that you lack sensitivity.
“If you raise your voice in public about these matters, you will be hounded and trolled on social media…”
The Archbishop offered a sobering analysis of how the Church’s teaching on marriage is viewed by many in society.
He said: “The Church suffers. The truth is turned into a scandal. The disciples of Jesus are forced into silence or, worse, give in to the temptation to accommodate. We concentrate on survival techniques rather than on witness and evangelisation. With great reluctance and sorrow, I have come to accept that in these matters, we will not easily influence the world around us.”
Archbishop Tartaglia ended his homily, however, with a rallying cry, which echoed the words of recent Popes to rely on God and continue to offer humble witness to society. He said: “What is going on in the world is unsustainable. It will eventually consume itself in great unhappiness. But that is in the hands of God. We are called upon to give what we can. We do what we know to be right. We fight the good fight. We remain faithful to Christ. We ask for forgiveness of our own sins and hypocrisy. We keep our hands outstretched in friendship.
“We need to be ready, not with words of condemnation, but with compassion and love. It is what the Lord would do…”