Charity is universal and its obligation is always absolute.
In order to help the sick, we need to show a great deal of respect, for suffering, of whatever kind, is always incommunicable, absolutely personal, like the new name God bestows upon us, which will be revealed to us in heaven. We don't have the right to be casual with the sick, to take charge of their time, their energy, their illness, like benefactors confident that everything can be tidied up with a little money….
Already in advance, then, we must show respect. Then, we truly need to show love, which will give us the intuitive knack to know what to say, and above all, to know how to listen….
This is sometimes difficult for healthy people who are a bit too satisfied with themselves, or a little overly pleased with their efficiency and their connections — it's difficult for them not to think of sick people as slightly inferior creatures. On the contrary, we must give sick people the conviction that we receive from them; that, in fact, we receive more than we bring. And this is always true, even when the sick do not seem to fulfill their mission of giving witness to the Crucified. For in reality the effort to pay attention to someone, to discover one's neighbor in what he mysteriously suffers from — and all suffering is an enigma — is an invitation to encounter God. You remember that line from one of the Fathers of the Church: "When you see your neighbor, you see God." Yet this demands that one truly makes the effort to see, to see the plan of God.
Mother Marie des Douleurs. "I desire mercy, not sacrifice." from an unpublished manuscript.
This excerpt appeared in Magnificat in August 2019.
Mother Marie des Douleurs (1902-1983) Foundress of the Congregation of the Benedictines of Jesus Crucified emphasizes the relationship between the Sacred Heart of Jesus and His Holy Face.Copyright © 1965 Mother Marie des Douleurs
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