Jesus Christ in the suffering. The health pastoral theology narrated by those who live the dimension of the disease into the daily experience of priestly life

- health ministry -

JESUS ​​CHRIST IN SUFFERING. THEOLOGY PASTORAL CARE narrated by WHO LIVES THE SIZE OF DISEASE IN DAILY LIFE EXPERIENCE FOR PRIESTS

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The disease has the advantage of scale the pride of man and physical weakness causes to be supported by others in corporal practices, even the most intimate. Unfortunately,, there is the remote possibility that the sick priest - just as Christ in the Garden of Olives - Know the abandonment of the brothers and their families fleeing the desolation that the disease involves.

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Author
Ivano Liguori, Ofm. Capp. *

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San Leopoldo Mandic, recognized by the Italian Episcopal Conference as the protector of suffering from cancer [cf. WHO]

Start to work with The island of Patmos with a reflection on the ministry of the most beautiful and delicate in the life of a priest: the pastoral care of the sick. This article is adapted from a meeting with the seminarians of the Pontifical Regional Seminary Sardo, where I spoke with a group of future priests in a time of dialogue, eschewing the temptation to conduct a pastoral theology lesson.

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I want to clarify immediately what 'it only works well if you believe good ", a concept of extreme importance that concerns each type of pastoral. Often and erroneously, the ministry is identified with the only practice; as if it were a practical reality called to carry alone “operating”. Seen in these terms, Pastoral seems almost natural antagonist of dogmatic theology, seen as the static reality of truth. Indeed, is it necessary to make a logical effort and understand that in order to “work well” you need to "think well". The same thing is experienced in the field of Divine Liturgy, we celebrate rites and signs that we firmly believe in the heart [cf. RM 10,10]. Under this, I can not expect to make a good pastoral - whatever it is - not from the strength of the data of Revelation and the Magisterium of the Church. It is necessary to combine the truth to do, faith works, being the practice, so that pastoral theology becomes:

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'Presence and action of the Church aimed evangelization of the world […] by discounting the liberating presence, sanante, and savior of Christ, in the power of the Spirit " [cf. Brusco - Painter, In the footsteps of Christ doctor, EDB, Bologna 1999, p.37].

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San Leopoldo Mandic

The ministry thus properly understood, He is turning me into a seeker of God, of that God who always enters into dialogue with the men to be known intimately and in the fullness of time you communicate fully through the Son the Word of Truth [cf. EB 1,1-2]. The ministry is the joyful message that God dwells man's time and in this context, in free and permanently, It works salvation. Heyn this time of grace in which man seeks God, We'll be guided by the Holy Spirit to communicate to the wells of salvation, which are the sacraments; to live transfiguring relationships within the church community of believers; to testify and proclaim that every man from baptism belongs to the risen Christ as to be assimilated by him, according to the beautiful words that we find in confessions Sant’ Augustine:

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"You will be you who assimilate me to you, but I who assimilerò you to me ' [cf. S. Augustine, "Confessions", VII, 10].

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Poste be in these considerations, pastoral theology is the purest taking action consciousness of God in the identity of faith - as expressed by dogmatic theology - that the Church proposes to the man who wants to meet God. The ministry is not the container engaging strategies to proclaim Christ or earn disciples, but communication Deposit of Faith in the heart of humanity that the example of the blessed Apostle Peter proclaims:

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"Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life and we believe and know that you are the Holy One of God " [cf. GV 6,68-69].

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For this we say that the ministry is a journey of faith and of the knowledge of Christ.

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PASTORAL CARE OF SUFFERING TO MEET THE "SUFFERING"

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San Leopoldo Mandic

Clarified broadly the discourse on pastoral in its relationship to the truth revealed, Now let us analyze the pastoral care of the sick and suffering brothers. always, this is a type of typically Christian activity, because Christ has identified his person with the sick [cf. Mt 25,36ss] and at the time of his passion he is in charge not only of sins, but by every physical suffering [cf. Is 53,4]. His most holy body and his precious blood that we worship in the bread and wine is mystery ie sacred sign, veil of a real presence; similarly in the suffering body of Christ it is sick veiled but present in the name of the one who suffers for his sickness. About this, Pascal is said that at the end of his life, not being able to receive the holy sacrament because of a bad stomach which would involve the danger of profaning the Eucharist, he asked to receive the Lord through the sign-presence of the sick poor of the hospital for the incurable.

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For us priests and future priests, the pastoral care of the sick is a natural continuation of the Eucharistic celebration where we had the chance to meet and make us listeners and worshipers of Christ the example of Mary of Bethany, only to become his servants myths like Martha. To this I would say - without fear of contradiction - that the priest who in his day there visiting and serving the sick suffering, seriously it demeans the Eucharistic Sacrifice that celebrates. Unfortunately in fraternal dialogue with several fellow priests and pastors, I gained the feeling of like visiting the sick is becoming one of the most overlooked and forgotten priestly duties. And what I have just said is solid evidence in the experience of the saints. Blessed St. Francis of Assisi made sacramental experience of Christ the Redeemer precisely in the sign of leprosy sufferer who meets along the way:

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"The Lord gave me, Brother Francis, to begin doing penance in this way: When I was in sin, it seemed too bitter to see lepers; And the Lord Himself led me among them and I showed mercy to them. And when I left them, what had seemed bitter to me was turned into sweetness of soul and body. And then, I delayed a little and left the world " [cf. S. Francis of Assisi, "Will" 1-3, FF. 110].

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San Leopoldo Mandic

Before that encounter and dialogue with the Crucifix of San Damiano, Francis of Assisi is dazzled by Christ through the sign of his brother's illness leper [cf. 1Cel17, FF. 348; 3Comp11, FF. 1407-1408]. Thus, following the example of its founder, the first Franciscan fraternity chose to stay with leprosy patients and serve as identification for those in illness, Because of marginality, they are imago Christi.

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Even before the pauperism choice, St. Francis chose as a way of rapprochement to Christ the category of the scariest sick of his time: the lepers [cf. Manselli, SLewis Francis, It. St. Paul, pp. 109-110].

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CARE OF SUFFERING IS CAUSE FOR CONVERTING THE PRIEST

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Through the example of St. Francis meeting the leper converts, I now want to underline how this type of ministry is conducted not only in view of a dynamic welfare Ministerial towards the sufferers, but as an occasion of grace and personal conversion to the person of the priest.

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San Leopoldo Mandic

Visiting the sick, proposes the inescapable certainty of the condition of fragility of our human nature contracted with original sin. I have to bear in mind that, the passage of time and the seasons, tomorrow the condition of sickness is also my. In the experience as a hospital chaplain, I have dealt with several times the assistance of inmates sick brothers who have experienced in their own flesh what is in the time of their youth lived only indirectly through the pastoral practice. In such a state of weakness and infirmity, outward priestly insignia and ceremonial trappings that often nourish the vain glory remain mute and are less. In the sick priest, It becomes present in all the crudeness of stripping a necessary realism that makes brilliant empathy to Christ Priest and Victim [cf. Within 2,7; Mt 27,35]. Depending on the severity of the disease and personal caregiving conditions, the sick priest reflects its image into that of the Suffering Servant of YHWH:

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"He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, no beauty that we should desire him " [cf. Is 53,2].

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The disease has the advantage of scale the pride of man and physical weakness induces to be supported by the other in corporal practices, even the most intimate. Unfortunately,, there is the remote possibility that the sick priest - just as Christ in the Garden of Olives - Know the abandonment of the brothers and their families fleeing the desolation that the disease involves. Possible presence that this It could relate to each patient. But it is the priest who takes on a particular value of identity with Christ by virtue of sacred ordination. About this, just remember episodes of illness that have touched the long life of John Paul II to understand the role conforming to Christ of the disease in the person of the sick priest.

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San Leopoldo Mandic

The sick priest, sometimes it is no longer able to offer the bread and wine but only himself to the Father. God accepts this sacrifice in union with that of Christ with a view to personal purification and for the redemption of the world. Not already so how bloody reality that seeks pain for pain as well as quench of the cup of divinity [cf. Rene Girard, The Scapegoat].

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I remember very well the words of a senior priest after having administered the Sacrament of the Sick:

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"Tell the bishop that I offer all this for the priests and the Church's needs!».

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Already St. Paul had expressed this with words: "I fill up in my flesh what is lacking in Christ's afflictions, in favor of his body which is the Church " [cf. With the 1,24]. Here's how the disease calls to conversion, to review their priorities and personal positions, to verify their lives as well as gold is purified and refined in the crucible [cf. Sir 2,4-5].

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Looking at our weakness God's ministers, when we suffer with Christ is not the time to put our hands into those of the bishop as the day of priestly ordination but those same Father as a sign of obedience union of the Son on the cross. And repeating with St. Bernard say:

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It was the death of Christ, who pleased God the Father, but his willingness to die spontaneously for us " [cf. St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Letter 90, De Error Abelardi, 8,21-22 PL 182, 1070, «not jaws, yet decided on her own that dies»].

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This reflection on the disease in the person of the priest, not only it produces the purpose of a real and concrete conversion, as it sharpens the desire to be well prepared to deal with the illness and death with the weapons of faith. But it also makes present as the disease of those who serve as ministers, acquires meaning only through the wisdom of faith that we find expressed in the scriptures:

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"Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, for they suffered such things? No, I tell you, but unless you repent, all perish in the same way. Or those eighteen, above which Siloam fell tower fell, You believe that they were worse offenders than all the inhabitants of Jerusalem? No, I tell you, but unless you repent, all perish in the same way » [cf. LC 13 2-5].

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HEALTH messianic TASK DELIVERY IN CHRIST PRIEST.

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San Leopoldo Mandic

The priest in charge of the pastoral care of the sick He embarks on a journey of healing with the suffering brother, that is the Messianic person to whom Jesus addressed the beginning of his public ministry:

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"Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news preached " [cf. LC 7,22].

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We are facing a new kind of pastoral, Jesus works a therapeutic ministry, able to involve men in a journey of healing and reconciliation to God because it requires conversion [cf. MC 1,14-15]. This type of ministry takes a step that is not only methodological, but ontological: switching from a pastoral centered only on a pastoral health condition that requires care for the sick. And Jesus is not perhaps the Savior, one who would care salus and realizes? San Pietro Crisologo expresses this thought so:

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"Christ came to take our infirmities and to bestow its virtues, to take charge of the human and to give us the divine, to accept the insults and make about, to endure the hassle and restore health. The fact that no doctor is in charge of disease knows no cure, and one who is not sick with the sick can not give health. [cf. S. Peter Crisologo, sermons, PL 52, 50].

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When Christianity speaks of salvation, uses the Latin word salus. Every Sunday in the Creed we say for our salvation;, that is, for our salvation. The Christian Health, what we see in the Gospels is that when Christ tears me infirmity wanted by the devil - origin and cause of every sin and evil - and introduces me into the Paschal healing at the price of his blood. Inside this logic every healing and liberation that Christ as the author becomes Easter time where the work of the devil is defeated and the man returned their health according to God's saving plan.

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San Leopoldo Mandic

The therapeutic action that Christ does in his public ministry is an anticipation of the final ministry of salvation and health come true with his passion, Death and Resurrection. Popular piety comes to us in this reasoning with the beautiful prayer attributed to St. Ignatius of Loyola: Anima Christi. At one point of the prayerful prayer puts it this way:

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"Blood of Christ, inebriate. Water from the side of Christ, thoroughly ».

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We put before Jesus crucified on Golgotha, Soldiers control the bodies of the condemned and in the manner of Roman crucifixion break your legs to prevent convicted of a slow death, and anticipate death, but Jesus this fate is not up because it is already dead, so that for security it was inflicted a wound to the chest pouring blood and water [cf. GV 19,31-36]. The bath that heals me and tears me from the power of the devil is certainly that figure baptismal water that flows from the side of the redeemer. But there is a second washing, the blood of Christ that the priest administers whenever absolves sins.

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San Leopoldo Mandic

The blood and water are so the two streams where man can cleanse away all his life, and buy with salvation also healing. Interestingly, the blood of Christ in prayer Anima Christi is said that intoxicates. What the author alludes? I do not think of making a mistake if we interpret these words in reference to the Holy Spirit, discreet presence that intoxicates the life of believers with the same love that unites the Father and the Son. The blood that Christ shed is a sign of obedience to the Father, a sign of the highest fidelity that a child can manifest its parent. The moment in which the blood of Christ cleanses me from sin, I wash the sins, I am also reached by the same love which the Son has the Father. I'm filled with the Holy Spirit who gives me the intoxicating sweetness of her vital presence that makes my life [cf. This 37,9]. Not for nothing did the apostle Matthew says that Jesus at the time of his death gave up the spirit [cf. Mt 27,50]. To returns? To the Father as a total surrender of his person and man as a demonstration and teaching a love which goes to the end [cf. GV 13,1]. When Christ saves me with his blood, also it gives me the deposit of its intoxicating love which is the Holy Spirit, making me enjoy salvation and the good that God wants me. The priest is made by Jesus instrument of this grace for the brothers, to the total gift of his person, of his time and his ministry.

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Last Rites, Today Sacrament of the Sick [dipinto di Rogier van der Weyden, 1445]

I conclude by quoting the sacrament of healing that the Church gives to the sick brothers. This sacrament is the wonderful synthesis of the Passion of Christ and of his love offered to each patient. In ministering to the sick, the priest is called to administer promptly the sacrament of anointing of the sick. Sacramento combining the therapeutic character and salvific action of Christ on the bodies and the souls of the suffering. The therapeutic efficacy and remissoria of this sacrament on the evils of body and spirit involves a spiritual bath which always acts in virtue of that blood flowed from the open side of the redeemer. The imposition of the priest's hands on the head of the patient before the anointing is the explicit reference to the gift of the Holy Spirit who is poured out at that time as a liniment man oppressed by suffering.

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Fidelity of the priest to perform these saving acts in his ministry, This healthy and make the saving action of Christ among brothers. The duty-duty of the priest to give salvation is identical to that of Christ. And when Jesus came to give us life in abundance [cf. GV 10,10], the same is called to perform the priest: give life, not possess; work for a healing of men, not to increase the wounds.

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Cagliari, 4 December 2018

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* Friar and priest of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, She performs the sacred priestly ministry as chaplain of the Hospital of Cagliari, after deepening in the years of training and over time studies in pastoral theology and particularly in the health ministry.

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