Since July, the media has reported on the deadly Ebola virus spreading through West Africa – first Sierra Leone, then Liberia, the Ivory Coast, and Guinea. The virus has traveled to the United States as well. First, we controlled Ebola at state of the art facilities in Georgia and Nebraska. Now we know that the virus has spread to three people in Dallas. As I type, the Washington Post is reporting an Ebola scare at a place close to the hearts of many of us MCCW ladies – the Pentagon in Washington.
At first, it was easy to talk about containing Ebola, or bracketing the problem into a West African issue. That concept was cruel and naïve.
If anything demonstrates the interconnectedness of humanity, it’s disease. However, a knee jerk reaction to fear disease and contain it is not a sufficient response for anyone, much less Catholics. We certainly have to take precautions to keep our healthy population healthy. To this end, some diocese, including the Diocese of Fort Worth are instituting “liturgical adaptations,” such as discouraging handshaking and hugging during the sign of peace, and withholding the Blood of Christ at Masses. These efforts to contain diseases, however, fall short of our calling as Catholics. We are called to offer mercy, healing, and peace through trust in God.
As Catholics, it is incumbent upon us to show God’s mercy and healing to those who are sick and to pray for all affected by the disease. Have you seen the images from the news? Pause for a moment and picture the hospital beds. Visualize the images of emaciated children laying inside plastic zip-up containers on those beds. What does it smell like in those hospital rooms? If your child had Ebola, what kind of treatment and comfort would you expect? The difference is striking, isn’t it?
“[W]hatever you did for one of these brothers of Mine, you did it to Me.” (Matthew 25:40).
So what to do? Not all of us are called or qualified to become instant medical missionaries; however, everyone can do something. Here are a few suggestions:
- Support Catholic organizations that provide medical treatment, health education, infrastructure, and expertise to locations suffering from an Ebola outbreak. Catholic Relief Services (CRS) crs.org is working closely with Bishop Andrew Karnley in Liberia to stop the spread of the virus.
- Write a letter of encouragement to some of the 3,000 US service members who will be deploying to assist in West Africa, healthcare workers in West Africa, world leaders, and victims’ families to offer compassion and prayers.
- Pray for everyone affected by Ebola and other illnesses. CRS offers this prayer:
Jesus, healer of the sick,
Your heart was filled with compassion for the sick and suffering
and you traveled to all the towns and villages, curing every disease and illness.
We ask that all of those infected with the Ebola virus may feel the healing power of Jesus:
Comfort for all who mourn the loss of loved ones
Protection for all those who are vulnerable
Support for all health workers who risk their own lives to care for others.
Let your compassion be more contagious than any disease or malady
so that we may generously respond as you would.
- Share this post to encourage everyone to respond to the Ebola outbreak.
Though this list is short, the action our chapel communities should take to offer mercy, healing and God’s peace can impact the world. Please share with us how your community is responding to the Ebola crisis.
 This prayer is from the Catholic Relief Services. http://crs.org/prayers/prayer-for-people-suffering-from-ebola.cfm
“Compassion Through Fear: How Our Community Can Help The Victims of Ebola” contributed by Elizabeth Tomlin.