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Catechism of the Catholic Church

"Heal the sick . . ."

1506 Christ invites his disciples to follow him by taking up their cross in their turn. 114 By following him they acquire a new outlook on illness and the sick. Jesus associates them with his own life of poverty and service. He makes them share in his ministry of compassion and healing: "So they went out and preached that men should repent. And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them." 115

1507 The risen Lord renews this mission ("In my name . . . they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover." 116) and confirms it through the signs that the Church performs by invoking his name. 117 These signs demonstrate in a special way that Jesus is truly "God who saves." 118

1508 The Holy Spirit gives to some a special charism of healing 119 so as to make manifest the power of the grace of the risen Lord. But even the most intense prayers do not always obtain the healing of all illnesses. Thus St. Paul must learn from the Lord that "my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness," and that the sufferings to be endured can mean that "in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his Body, that is, the Church." 120

1509 "Heal the sick!" 121 The Church has received this charge from the Lord and strives to carry it out by taking care of the sick as well as by accompanying them with her prayer of intercession. She believes in the life-giving presence of Christ, the physician of souls and bodies. This presence is particularly active through the sacraments, and in an altogether special way through the Eucharist, the bread that gives eternal life and that St. Paul suggests is connected with bodily health. 122

1510 However, the apostolic Church has its own rite for the sick, attested to by St. James: "Isa any among you sick? Let him call for the elders [presbyters] of the Church and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven." 123 Tradition has recognized in this rite one of the seven sacraments. 124

Notes:

114 Cf. Mt 10:38.

115 Mk 6:12-13.

116 Mk 16:17-18.

117 Cf. Acts 9:34; 14:3.

118 Cf. Mt 1:21; Acts 4:12.

119 Cf. I Cor 12:9, 28, 30.

120 2 Cor 12:9; Col 1:24.

121 Mt 10:8.

122 Cf. Jn 6:54, 58; I Cor 11:30.

123 Jas 5:14-15.

124 Cf. Council of Constantinople II (553) DS 216; Council Of Florence (1439) 1324- 1325; Council Of Trent (1551) 1695-1696; 1716-1717.

English Translation of the Cathechism of the Catholic Church for the United States of America © 1997, United States Catholic Conference, Inc.

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