PCS 32-34: Ministry of the Baptized

We have a section titled, “OFFICES AND MINISTRIES FOR THE SICK.” What does this mean? The Church takes a very liberal view of ministry here, calling up Saint Paul and no fewer than three Vatican documents:

32 If one member suffers in the Body of Christ, which is the Church, all the members suffer with that member (1 Corinthians 12:26). (Lumen Gentium 7) For this reason, kindness shown toward the sick and works of charity and mutual help for the relief of every kind of human want are held in special honor. (Apostolicam Actuositatem 8) Every scientific ef­fort to prolong life (Gaudium et Spes 18) and every act of care for the sick, on the part of any person, may be considered a preparation for the Gospel and a sharing in Christ’s healing ministry. (Lumen Gentium 28)

Kindness and charity toward the sick, even if performed by a non-believer, constitute evangelization (“a preparation for the Gospel”) and are congruent to the actions and intent of Christ himself. The obvious people: doctors, nurses, orderlies, assistants are said to be part of this ministry. The Church also emphasizes that any act, by any person is ministry. That especially means visitors, as well as those who pray for the sick.

33 It is thus especially fitting that all baptized Christians share in this ministry of mutual charity within the Body of Christ by doing all that they can to help the sick return to health, by show­ing love for the sick, and by celebrating the sacraments with them. Like the other sacraments, these too have a community aspect, which should be brought out as much as possible when they are celebrated.

Two things to like about this: the notion that the community celebrates sacraments, and that the sick should not be segregated from the healthy in the liturgical life of the Church.

34 The family and friends of the sick and those who take care of them in any way have a special share in this ministry of comfort. In particular, it is their task to strengthen the sick with words of faith and by praying with them, to commend them to the suffering and glorified Lord, and to encourage them to con­tribute to the well-being of the people of God by associating themselves willingly with Christ’s passion and death. (Lumen Gentium 21) If the sickness grows worse, the family and friends of the sick and those who take care of them have the responsibility of informing the pastor and by their kind words of prudently disposing the sick for the reception of the sacraments at the proper time.

Loved ones have their role, note their duty is to share “words of faith,” to pray with them, and to assist in the preparation of receiving the sacraments. Lots of affirmation for the laity here, and an undeniable charge to share in the ministry of Christ as they assist the sick in any way, small or large. Any comments?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
This entry was posted in Pastoral Care of the Sick, post-conciliar liturgy documents, Rites. Bookmark the permalink.

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