“… I was sick and you visited me.” (Matt. 25:36)
Visitation of the sick is one of the seven Corporal Works of Mercy given to us by Jesus in the 25th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. So it would require a serious set of circumstances, and much prayerful consideration, to prevent individuals from visiting patients in our hospitals.
The COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak presents us with this serious circumstance. Hartford HealthCare’s decision to suspend visiting hours at St. Vincent’s Medical Center is in keeping with the common-sense practices Catholics have been urged to follow in all areas of their lives. While I realize this decision is difficult for patients and their loved ones, our greatest act in this moment is to prevent the unnecessary spread of disease and suffering.
As a Catholic faith community, in times of uncertainty our first response is to pray for guidance and grace to meet the challenges of the day. As Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has said: “With the worldwide outbreak of the coronavirus, we are confronted once more with the fragility of our lives, and again we are reminded of our common humanity — that the peoples of this world are our brothers and sisters, that we are all one family under God.”
Please join me in praying for those in hospitals and nursing homes, and for all those in the medical profession who bring hope and healing.