In the Parish Bulletin, this week…
Corporal Work of Mercy
Visiting and Caring for the Sick During a Pandemic
By Fr. Robert Manansala, OFM
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, countless people have gotten sick and are getting sick not only physically and medically, but also mentally, emotionally, spiritually, as well as economically and socially. Any experience of distress that afflicts the well-being of the person in different ways can be considered a “dis-ease” or a sickness.
The act of visiting and caring for the sick has been traditionally categorized as a Corporal Work of Mercy. In this time of pandemic — wherein family members cannot even visit their sick relatives and considering the multi-effects of the pandemic — this act of mercy can be considered as both a corporal act of mercy and a spiritual act of mercy. Mercy is to be shown to persons afflicted with different forms of sickness.
Jesus is portrayed in the Gospels, among others, as a Healer. He is a Healer of both body and soul. He is a total Healer. And His healing is a sign of God’s mercy and compassion in the midst of the suffering of people of different forms of infirmity.
The health frontliners — like doctors and nurses in the hospitals — are right there, attending to the infected and dying sick people. The chaplains attend to the sick people’s need for spiritual healing and emotional support. Family members who cannot visit show their care for their sick loved ones by intensely praying for them and by being connected to them in other ways possible. Parents attend to their children who may be experiencing mental and emotional distress resulting from them being quarantined for a long period of time, and from the effects of long exposure to online classes. Psychologists and counselors are busy conducting online counseling and consultation. Groups that meet regularly online for support and sharing have increased. Others have organized community pantries to help address the pain felt by empty stomachs grumbling with hunger.
We recognize that there is no substitute for personal and face-to-face human contact. Interaction, visitation, and care for the sick are impossible or hard to do. But compassion or mercy must continue to reach out to those who are sick — in ways that are creative, effective, affective, consoling, healing, and transforming. We must be there with the sick in ways possible. Physical distancing must not allow us to become emotionally, socially, and spiritually distant, especially from the sick.
During this time of pandemic, I have experienced visiting a sick person — for the Sacrament of Anointing — in the Emergency Room of a hospital, and it felt like I was in a war zone! I had to be in complete personal protective equipment (PPE). When there is a sick call for a patient in a hospital and I am unable to go because of the protocols, I try to get in touch with the chaplains and their assistants of the said hospital for help on behalf of the sick patient. I have also administered the Sacrament of Confession, Holy Anointing and Holy Communion to the sick and the dying in their homes. Praying for the sick – especially during personal and quiet prayers like the Divine Mercy Prayer and the Rosary, and during the celebration of the Eucharist — has been for me a special way of visiting and caring for the sick. So many Masses via Zoom have been said not only for the eternal repose of the souls of the dead but also to console the bereaved family members.
Rekindling Our Missionary Zeal
By Nancy Gonewai, CCD Teacher
Last August 14, the 32 Teachers, Committee members and Staff of the CCD (Continuing Catholic Development) Ministry gathered together in a virtual Recollection and Spiritual bonding to prepare ourselves — to set the pace of our evangelization work — for the coming CCD school year, from September 1, 2021 to April 27, 2022. CCD Chair Joyce Wang welcomed everyone and introduced our Recollection Facilitator and Presenter — SSAP’s, Fr. Robert Manansala, OFM.
The prevailing and relentless pandemic and all its accompanying negative challenges have destroyed or disrupted our lives in every strata of society the world over. We were therefore waiting eagerly and hopefully for some spiritual relief, from this Recollection, and more to the point, some encouragement and inspiration from Father Robert. He did not disappoint us. His very first words were just what we needed to hear and it set the tone for what would turn out to be for all of us on the receiving end, a profound Recollection — given with Father Robert’s warm and welcoming words.
“Being a Catechist is a Vocation”, Fr. Robert quoted from Pope Francis. “Is it your Vocation?” he asked us. He urged us to always remember, especially in our classrooms, Pope Francis’ job description of our vocation that “Catechists are people who keep the memory of God alive; they keep it alive in themselves and they are able to revive it in others.” And to firmly reiterate this in the Church, Pope Francis had issued a motu proprio entitled Antiquum Ministerium (Ancient Ministry) on May 11 this year, to establish the Lay Ministry of Catechist, praising “the countless lay men and women who directly took part in the spread of the Gospel through catechetical instruction. He says that these catechists were men and women of deep faith, authentic witnesses of holiness. Some of them founded Churches and eventually died martyrs”. Fr. Robert added that our own — San Lorenzo Ruiz and San Pedro Calungsod — were such role models.
Having uplifted our spirits thus far, Fr. Robert continued on in his own indomitable and unique style which many of us who attend his Retreats and Recollections have come to respect and deeply appreciate. He began to Rekindle our Zeal as Catechists with another inspiring quote, this time from Pope Benedict XVI, that “The greatest act of charity is evangelization …There is no action more beneficial – and therefore more charitable — towards one’s neighbor than to break the bread of the Word of God, to share with him the Good News of the Gospel, to introduce him to a relationship with God”. On hearing these words, most of us were not only encouraged but also deeply moved because they confirmed in us what we teach and share in our classrooms with our students every week. And so with Fr. Robert’s mentoring, we again re-affirmed in ourselves and with each other, our Missionary Zeal as CCD Teachers which we share as aspirants in the service of the Lord through our work for CCD in particular, and for our Parish, in general.
Our Recollection concluded with the celebration of Holy Mass during which we Pledged, with the Guidance of the Holy Spirit, our commitments and our purpose and dedication as Teachers, to direct the spiritual journeys of our students and to implement the goals of our Parish. Fr. Robert prayed over us — asking our Heavenly Father to bless us with strength and inspiration — to teach and serve our students and all others we encounter, in the weeks and months ahead. Read more on Page 6
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