In a pastoral letter read in parishes of the diocese on the Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, 26th February 2017, Cardinal Vincent urges the faithful not just to hand the sick over to professional care, but to offer them pastoral and spiritual care in their communities.
He reflects on the diocesan season of prayer entitled ‘Called to Serve the Sick’ which is intended as a continuation of the Year of Mercy.
This season focuses on the corporal work of mercy of caring for the sick. Introducing this season, which began with Mass in honour of Our Lady of Lourdes, the Cardinal reminds the faithful that burdens of sickness and death cannot be carried alone, ‘for it is only by standing shoulder to shoulder that we carry the crosses that come our way from the Lord’.
Whilst he recognises that professional care is important, he stresses that we should ‘not turn our backs’ and should instead ‘embrace sick members of our own family and our relatives, and also those in our neighbourhoods’.
Cardinal Vincent counsels against forgetting those who have complex needs or long term conditions, explaining that ‘God wants us to say to those for whom we care: I, too, in God’s name will never forget you’.
Looking ahead to Ash Wednesday in the coming week, the Cardinal reflects that in Lent ‘we try to follow more closely Our Blessed Lord, especially in the sufferings he bore for us. This longer season of “Called to Serve the Sick”, can start by our looking again, during Lent, at how we care for those who are going through a time of illness, or indeed whose lives are coming to an end.’
This season of prayer continues until the diocesan Lourdes pilgrimage in July.
The full text of the homily can be read here.
Or listen to the audio recording: