Saturday, June 20, 2020

Pope Francis says "Prayer is the soul of hope" in Message to Health Care Workers

ADDRESS OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
TO DOCTORS, NURSES AND HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS FROM LOMBARDY
Sala Clementina
Saturday, 20 June 2020



Dear brothers and sisters, welcome!
I thank the President of the Lombardy Region for his words. I cordially greet the Archbishop of Milan, the Bishops of Bergamo, Brescia, Cremona, Crema and Lodi, and the other authorities present. I greet the doctors, nurses, health and civil protection workers, and the Alpine troops. I greet the priests and consecrated persons. You came to represent Lombardy, one of the Italian regions most affected by the COVID-19 epidemic, together with Piedmont, Emilia Romagna and Veneto, especially Vo 'Euganeo, represented here by the Bishop of Padua. Today I also ideally embrace these regions. And I greet the exponents of the "Spallanzani" Hospital in Rome, a medical center that has done a great deal to combat the virus.
During these troubled months, the various realities of Italian society have endeavored to face the health emergency with generosity and commitment. I am thinking of national and regional institutions, of municipalities; I think of dioceses and parish and religious communities; to the many voluntary associations. We have felt more than ever the gratitude for doctors, nurses and all health professionals, at the forefront of performing an arduous and sometimes heroic service. They have been a visible sign of humanity that warms the heart. Many of them fell ill and some unfortunately died in the exercise of the profession. We remember them in prayer and with such gratitude.
In the whirlwind of an epidemic with shocking and unexpected effects, the reliable and generous presence of medical and paramedical staff has constituted the safe point of reference, first of all for the sick, but in a very special way for family members, which in this case they did not have the opportunity to visit their loved ones. And so they found in you, health workers, almost of other family people, capable of combining professional competence with those attentions that are concrete expressions of love. Patients often felt they had "angels" at their side, who helped them recover health and, at the same time, consoled them, supported them, and sometimes accompanied them to the threshold of the final encounter with the Lord. These health workers, supported by the concern of the hospital chaplains, they testified the closeness of God to those who suffer; they were silent artisans of the culture of proximity and tenderness. Culture of proximity and tenderness. And you have witnessed it, even in small things: in caresses ..., even with the mobile phone, to connect that elderly man who was about to die with his son, with his daughter to dismiss them, to see them the last time ...; small gestures of love creativity… This has done us all good. Testimony of proximity and tenderness. with his daughter to dismiss them, to see them the last time ...; small gestures of love creativity… This has done us all good. Testimony of proximity and tenderness. with his daughter to dismiss them, to see them the last time ...; small gestures of love creativity… This has done us all good. Testimony of proximity and tenderness.
Dear doctors and nurses, the world has been able to see how well you have done in a great test situation. Even if exhausted, you have continued to commit yourself with professionalism and self-sacrifice. How many, doctors and paramedics, nurses, could not go home and slept there, where they could because there were no beds, in the hospital! And this generates hope. She [turns to the President of the Region] spoke of hope. And this generates hope. You have been one of the pillars of the whole country. My esteem and my sincere thanks go to you here and to your colleagues from all over Italy, and I am well aware of interpreting everyone's feelings.
Now, it's time to treasure all this positive energy that has been invested. Do not forget! It is a wealth that, in part, has certainly gone "in depth", in the drama of the emergency; but to a large extent it can and must bear fruit for the present and future of Lombard and Italian society. The pandemic has deeply affected people's lives and the history of communities. To honor the suffering of the sick and the many deceased, especially the elderly, whose life experience must not be forgotten, tomorrow must be built: it requires the commitment, strength and dedication of all. It is a matter of starting again from the countless testimonies of generous and gratuitous love, which have left an indelible mark on the consciences and fabric of society, teaching how much there is need of closeness, care, of sacrifice to nourish fraternity and civil coexistence. And, looking to the future, that speech comes to mind, in the lazar, by Fra Felice, in Manzoni [Promessi sposi , cap. 36 °]: with how much realism it looks at tragedy, it looks at death, but it looks to the future and it carries on.
In this way, we will be able to get out of this crisis spiritually and morally stronger; and this depends on the conscience and responsibility of each of us. Not alone, however, but together and with the grace of God. As believers it is up to us to testify that God does not abandon us, but gives meaning in Christ also to this reality and to our limit; that with his help the toughest tests can be faced. God created us for communion, for fraternity, and now more than ever the claim to focus everything on oneself - it is illusory - to make individualism the guiding principle of society has proved to be illusory. But be careful because, as soon as the emergency is over, it is easy to slip, it is easy to fall back into this illusion. It's easy to quickly forget that we need others, someone to take care of us, to give us courage. Forgetting that we all need a Father who holds out his hand. Praying to him, invoking him, is not an illusion; illusion is to think of doing without it! Prayer is the soul of hope.
In recent months, people have not been able to participate in the liturgical celebrations in attendance, but have not stopped feeling like a community. They prayed individually or in the family, also through the means of social communication, spiritually united and perceiving that the embrace of the Lord went beyond the limits of space. The pastoral zeal and the creative concern of the priests have helped people to continue the path of faith and not to remain alone in the face of pain and fear. This priestly creativity that has won some, few, "adolescent" expressions against the measures of authority, which has the obligation to protect the health of the people. Most of them were obedient and creative. I admired the apostolic spirit of many priests, who went by phone, knocking on doors, ringing houses: "I need something? I do the shopping ... ". A thousand things. Proximity, creativity, without shame. These priests who remained with their people in caring and daily sharing: they were a sign of the consoling presence of God. They were fathers, not teenagers. Unfortunately, not a few of them have died, as well as doctors and paramedical staff. And also among you there are some priests who have been sick and thank God they are healed. In you I thank all the Italian clergy, who have shown courage and love to the people. Unfortunately, not a few of them have died, as well as doctors and paramedical staff. And also among you there are some priests who have been sick and thank God they are healed. In you I thank all the Italian clergy, who have shown courage and love to the people. Unfortunately, not a few of them have died, as well as doctors and paramedical staff. And also among you there are some priests who have been sick and thank God they are healed. In you I thank all the Italian clergy, who have shown courage and love to the people.
Dear brothers and sisters, I renew to each of you and to all those who represent my heartfelt appreciation for what you have done in this difficult and complex situation. May the Virgin Mary, venerated in your lands in numerous shrines and churches, accompany you and always support you with his maternal protection. And don't forget that with your work, all of you, doctors, paramedics, volunteers, priests, religious, lay people, who have done this, have started a miracle. Have faith and, as that tailor said, a missed theologian: "I never found that God began a miracle without finishing it well" [Manzoni, Promessi sposi, Postal Code. 24 °]. May this miracle that you have begun end well! For my part, I continue to pray for you and your communities, and with affection I impart a special Apostolic Blessing to you. And you, please, don't forget to pray for me, I need it. Thank you.
[Blessing]
Now, the liturgy of greeting. But we must be obedient to the provisions: I will not make you come here, I will come, passing, to greet you politely, as it should be done, as the authorities have told us to do. And so, as brothers we greet each other and pray for one another. First we take the photo in common and then I come to greet you.

FULL TEXT + Image Source: Vatican.va - Official Translation from the Italian

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