The mystery of Christ casts light on every facet of Catholic care: to see Christian love as the animating principle of care; to see healing and compassion as a continuation of Christ’s mission; to see suffering as a participation in the redemptive power of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection; and to see death, transformed by the resurrection, as an opportunity for a final act of communion with Christ.
For the Christian, our encounter with suffering and death can take on a positive and distinctive meaning through the redemptive power of Jesus’ suffering and death. As St. Paul says, we are “always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body” (2 Cor. 4:10). This truth does not lessen the pain and fear, but gives confidence and grace for bearing suffering rather than being overwhelmed by it.
Catholic health care ministry bears witness to the truth that for those who are in Christ suffering and death are the birth pangs of the new creation. “God himself will always be with them [as their God]. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, [for] the old order has passed away” (Rv. 21:3-4).
In faithful imitation of Jesus Christ, the church has served the sick, suffering and dying in various ways throughout history.
Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Service
U.S. Bishops’ Meeting
June 15, 2001
Reproduced with Permission