On July 4, Pope Francis went to Rome’s Gemelli Clinic for scheduled surgery.
Earlier that day, the Holy Father had held his regular Sunday Angelus in Saint Peter’s Square and did not mention to the crowds (which are again growing as pilgrims are returning to the Vatican) that he was going for this procedure. Instead, the Pontiff prayed for peace around the world and spoke of his upcoming Apostolic journeys in September.
The Holy Father’s surgery was for stenosis, or a narrowing of part of the large intestine, most likely caused by diverticulitis.
His Holiness has since recovered nicely. He was even able to give his regularly scheduled Sunday Angelus from the Gemelli Clinic, surrounded by several children who were also patients of the clinic at the same time.
We are grateful to God for the successful recovery of our 84-year-old Pontiff, who, despite some other medical issues like sciatica, is in good health. We are grateful for the skill and knowledge of the surgeons and doctors and nurses who cared for the Pope.
And we are grateful for the countless prayers for the recovery of the Holy Father offered up to the Lord by the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ.
There are a few lessons that one can take from the event of the Holy Father’s hospitalization — illness can come to anyone, everyone needs to take care of their personal health, and we need to keep each other in prayer.
Illness, an effect of the fall of our first parents, Adam and Eve, can come at any time to any of us. The harsh reality of the global pandemic — and the many lives it has taken and the way that this virus has changed the way that we interact with each other — is also a reminder of this truth: No one is immune to illness. Life is precious and we are called to appreciate the gift of life and health, for ourselves and for others, daily.
Second, everyone needs to take care of their own personal health. There are relatively few people who actually enjoy going to the doctor, even for a simple check-up. However, it is needed and important.
We need not be hypochondriacs, thrown into a panic about every twinge we might feel, but we do need to take our health seriously and take care and begin to treat the problems that cause us pain, both physically and emotionally.
Third, we need to offer intercessory prayer for each other daily. It is a reality of the Christian life that supplication, intercessory prayer, is part of every baptized Christian’s duty. To pray for another is to engage in the priestly nature of our baptism, to offer that sacrifice of our thoughts and our personal time, to go out of ourselves and appeal before the throne of the Godhead for our brothers and sisters in this world.
Yes, we are blessed that Pope Francis is recuperating nicely; but it should also serve as a reminder that each of us needs to thank God for the gift of health, to preserve that gift of health, and to pray for each other’s health and salvation.
It is part and parcel of our Christian life!