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The Sick and Housebound – generate vocations

Archbishop Fulton Sheen said we should never waste our suffering, accordingly, each day let us offer up one hour of our sufferings for priests.

Saint Faustina of the Blessed Sacrament states in her diary (I268) “Poor indeed is the convent were there are no sick sisters. God often grants many and great graces out of regard for the souls who are suffering. And He withholds many punishments solely because of the suffering souls”


It is startling how many people in life just moan about their sufferings, they never think that they can dedicate their sufferings to Almighty God for a specific purpose. The servant of God Archbishop Fulton Sheen used to say "never waste suffering" Dear reader, I encourage you to offer up one hour of your daily sufferings for a priest. Somewhere there is a priest who needs you to spiritually "adopt" him and to pray and make little sacrifices for him.

Benjamin Franklin was two thirds correct when he said "nothing is certain except death and taxes". We know he ought to have proclaimed “nothing is certain except suffering, death and taxes". Each one of us is bound to carry his own cross. Let us recall Christ's famous saying” My yoke is easy and my burden light".( St Matthew Ch.11 v 30)

The Greek word for easy means "well-fitting". I remember when I was young on the farm in Ireland we had yokes (collars) in the stables for the horses. Each animal had its own collar. If we put the black mare's collar on the grey horse it would have hurt him because it would have chafed him greatly as he pulled the plough and would have caused him to bleed. The mare's collar was far too big for the pony. So we made sure each horse "was tackled" with its very own individually purchased yoke.

In Palestine at the time of Our Lord, the yokes were made of wood. Each yoke was individually made for the animals. The farmer would initially take the ox to the carpenter for its measurements to be taken. The animal then returned home but in the meantime the carpenter (or craftsman) roughed out the yoke. At the agreed time the animal returned to the carpenter for the final fitting when any necessary adjustments were made to ensure that the yoke was well fitting. The yoke was tailor made for the ox.

There is a lovely legend which claims that Christ who is described in the gospels as a craftsman (teckton) made the best ox-yokes in all of Galilee. The farmers used to come from all over the region to visit him in Nazareth so that He could fit out their animals. Like all carpenters of the time He had a small shop and over the door he had a sign which read. "My yokes fit best"

My yokes fit best"

Let me explain in the words of St Francis de Sales the significance of this statement. "The everlasting God has in His wisdom foreseen from eternity the cross that He now presents to you as a gift of His inmost heart. The cross He now sends you He has considered with His all knowing eyes, understood with His divine mind, tested with His wise justice, warmed with loving arms, and weighed with His own hands to see that it is not one inch too large nor one ounce too heavy for you. He has blessed it with His holy name, anointed it with His grace, perfumed it with His consolation, taken one last glance at you and your courage, and then sent it to you from heaven, a special greeting from God to you, an alms of the all-merciful love of God."

It is truly awesome to contemplate that out of all the people in all of creation Almighty God has chosen YOU, to carry this specially chosen cross with Him as He walks amongst us today. These crosses are "darts of love." Blessed Teresa of Calcutta has said that when suffering comes our way, it is a sign that we are close enough to the cross of Jesus for Him to give us a kiss.

It is a sad reflection of our modern society that many of us fail to identify the sick in our parish. What answer would we give to the following questions?

Do we have any idea of how many sick people there are in our parish?

Do the sick have their own representative on the Parish Pastoral committee?

Do we as a parish have anyone responsible for Outreach to the sick?

Are the sick represented at the washing of the feet on Holy Thursday?

Do our sick parishioners take part in the "offertory procession"?

Do the sick feel that they make a positive contribution to the parish?

Our Treasures

Our sick treasures continually generate special graces for our parish - the sick and housebound are our treasures but they need our help. They ought to be told not only how to bear their suffering but also what a priceless gift the cross is in their lives. Whatever cross comes our way in life by apparent accident or from our fellow man, comes because Almighty God in His great goodness allows it to come our way, nothing happens without His permission and it is His way of asking you and me to join our sufferings to Our Lord's as Saint Paul reminded us in Colossians 1:24 "I fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for his body, which is the church:"

Vocations Guide to Priesthood



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