Writing in the context of the Year for Priests, Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, the President of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, has sent a letter to those who are sick and suffering, asking them to pray for priests and the beatification of Pope John Paul II.
The purpose of the Year is to call the whole Christian community to “rediscover the beauty of the priestly vocation and thus to pray for priests,” the archbishop said, noting that this includes the sick.
Archbishop Zimowski reminded sick people in his October 1 letter that priests play an important role in their lives. “A priest at the bedside of a sick person represents Christ himself, the Divine Physician, who is not indifferent to the fate of those who suffer. Indeed, through the sacraments of the Church, administered by a priest, Jesus Christ offers to a sick person healing through reconciliation and the forgiveness of sins, through anointing with holy oil and lastly in the Eucharist, in the viaticum in which Christ himself becomes, as Giovanni Leonardi used to say, ‘the medicine of immortality’ by which ‘we are comforted, nourished, transformed into God, and participants in the divine nature,” he wrote.
The head of the Council for Health Care Workers also pointed out that the conclusion of the Year for Priests coincides with the 25th anniversary of the founding of Pontifical Council. Pope John Paul II, he recalled, founded the Council on the memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes to demonstrate the Church's care for the sick.
“Because of this providential anniversary,” Archbishop Zimowski wrote, “I am near to each one of you and I invite you, dear sick brothers and sisters, to unceasingly address your prayers and the offering up of your sufferings to the Lord of life for the holiness of your well loved priests, so that they can with devotion and pastoral charity perform the ministry that is entrusted to them by Christ, the physician of bodies and souls.”
During the Year for Priests, he encouraged the faithful who are sick and suffering to “rediscover the beauty of the prayer of the Holy Rosary for the spiritual benefit of priests, in a special way during the month of October.” He also exhorted the sick to participate in Mass and adoration of the Eucharist, “every first Thursday and every first Friday of the month, which are respectively dedicated to devotion to the Eucharist and the Sacred Heart of Jesus.”
“I would like to remind you that in praying for priests one can obtain special indulgences this year,” the archbishop added.
Looking ahead to April 2010, the Polish archbishop asked for their prayers for the pilgrimage of hospital chaplains that is being first in the French towns of Lourdes and Ars to mark the Pontifical Council's anniversary.
Archbishop Zimowski summed up his prayer requests by saying, To you, therefore, dear sick and suffering brothers and sisters, I entrust the Church which needs your prayers and sufferings, the person of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, and all the bishops and priests in the world, who strive every day for your sanctification. I ask from you a special prayer for priests who are sick and afflicted in their bodies who every day experience, like you, the weight of pain, together with the force of saving grace which comforts and heals the soul.”
The Polish prelate also urged the sick to pray for “the beatification and canonization of the Servant of God John Paul II” recommending that they offer a prayer for the needs of the Church, authored by the late Pontiff.