The Apostolate of the Sick is a community of people who are so closely united with Christ - suffering and risen from the dead - that they discover the call to make a spiritual sacrifice of their suffering. They endure their suffering with the spirit of peace and the submission to the will of God. They become exceptional witnesses and they contribute to the salvation of them and of other people. Due to the submission of their merit on that spiritual path, the suffering receive the grace of God for the whole Church. Just as Our Lady of Sorrows standing under the Cross and suffering with her Son, ill people who unite with Christ contribute to the spreading of the Kingdom of God.
The spirituality of the Apostolate
The spirituality of the Apostolate of the Sick helps the sick to experience suffering. It teaches them to trust God in every situation of life, to have faith and love in Him. It leads them and others who accompany them to a humble prayer – the request for the grace of healing.
Just as two thousand years ago so today Jesus is doing great works of inner (spiritual) and physical (bodily) healing - it is evidenced by numerous testimonies including those from Lourdes.
The prayer for healing does not preclude the fulfillment of medical recommendations for improving the health status of the patient. On the contrary: it cooperates in the recovery process carried out by medicine.
Hence the Apostolate of the Sick teaches that physical, mental or spiritual suffering can be a special gift received from God, which is defined by many saints as “a treasure”. It makes possible the spiritual union between Christ and the suffering.
The consequence of this unity is the rearrangement of the inner life of a patient (the cleansing of sins, defects and disordered attachments). It also offers their suffering in the spirit of love for others, for the Church, for missionaries, and for the Holy Father. In this way the apostolate of the patient is done. The aim of the Apostolate of the Sick is making its members the apostles who receive, bear and offer their suffering for the salvation of themselves and of others. In this way the Apostolate gives patients spiritual comfort by showing them the possibilities of creative co-operation, despite the disease, but because of the disease. The suffering is associated with the Sacrifice of the Mass and has been present in the Church for centuries. It remains in the opposition to the contemporary mentality of “the culture of death” - as it was described by St. John Paul II – which is associated with euthanasia.
Many canonized saints (including St. Theresa of the Child Jesus. St. Faustina Kowalska, St. Father Pio, St. Mother Theresa of Calcutta, the Servant of God Martha Robin) and those not raised to the altars confirm the fruitfulness of this path – so necessary in our times. St. Paul’s testimony was expressed in the words: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live” (Ga,19) and “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for you and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His body’s sake which is the Church” (Col. 1,24) refers mainly to the martyrs. St. Paul’s testimony becomes more important than ever in many parts of Europe and the world. However the recalled words of St. Paul we can also be referred to the activity of the community of the Apostolate of the Sick. They teach joyful experiencing of difficult times that are associated with suffering and converting – thanks to Jesus - painful tears into glorious ones.
The institution and the editors of the Apostolate
The Apostolate of the Sick is a community founded by Father Jacob Willenberg in the Netherlands and approved by Pope Pius XI. Presently it is in Poland, Italy and the Netherlands. In the past five years over a thousand members enrolled the Polish Apostolate. The formal membership of the community can be accomplished by a telephone call (0048 32 251 52), by mail (Sekretariat Apostolstwa Chorych, ul. Warszawska 58, 40-008 Katowice, Poland). It can be done solemnly during the Apostolate of the Sick retreat or during The Sick Days in a parish. It is advisable to inform the Secretariat of healing from illness or in case of the death of the member.
In response to the notification of belonging to the community a patient receives: a letter of explanation of the Apostolate of the Sick, a certificate of becoming a member, a membership prayer and a blessed badge – the cross engraved with words of St. Paul: “ I am crucified with Christ nevertheless I live”. It is advisable to say the membership prayer frequently in order to fulfill the role of the apostle. The cross reminds you to stay in the grace of God and use it for the sanctification of your suffering. You can also subscribe to a monthly “Apostolate of the Sick” which has been published since 1930.
The founder of the Apostolate of the Sick in Poland, Father Michał Rękas pointed out that the monthly magazines are a kind of “friendly visits” through which “the spiritual connection with other sufferers” takes place. They also constitute “the evidence of faithful memory”.
It is essential, as far as it is possible, to ensure that patients establish personal contact with the employees of the Secretariat. They can express their wishes, describe experiences, difficulties and grace of God they receive.
Works of the Apostolate of the Sick:
- issuing a monthly magazine (currently 35 thousand copies per month)
- maintaining the secretariat and the editors
- pastoral care of the sick
All those activities are financed by voluntary funds paid into the account of the Apostolate of the Sick.