Tag Archives: catholism

Hidden heroes in Christian ‘uniform’

It is in bad times that we discover true friends. The world is noisy, fast-paced, and obsessed with productivity. To visit those in the hospital or in a prison is to value them based on who they are, not what they have or what they can do. It is not fun to visit people when they are hurting, but it is a great act of mercy. At those times, they need other people the most – they need their presence and to know they care.

I work in nursing homes for my career as a mobile eye doctor. Each day I treat people who in many ways are chronically sick. They often feel like prisoners because, in a world obsessed with doing and having, they cannot do much of anything, and they do not have much of anything. They have lost their independence and can no longer take care of themselves. They cannot go anywhere without someone to take them. They have lost their homes and the majority of their possessions. Many are widowed and alone. Many are constantly hurting, physically and emotionally. Many wonder why they are still alive.

Because of my career, I can recognize the value of a simple visit. Of course, prison ministry, which involves going into actual prisons, is a powerful experience. Those who have hit bottom are often very open to hear the good news of Jesus Christ. The hope of Jesus is often the only thing they have left. They are searching for mercy and compassion. They want a second chance, and they can find it in Jesus Christ. They often need somebody to bring them this hope and good news and speak to them of the greatest and truest freedom – the freedom from sin and death.

We can all go to the sick and the homebound. As I see patients in nursing homes, a recurring theme in each diagnosis list is depression. They are lonely and often feel forgotten. Your potential to make a difference in a nursing home is unfathomable. One daughter whose mother was in a nursing home told me about a grumpy old man she would see when visiting her mother. He always had a frown, he was always inconsiderate to the morning aides, and he never participated in any activities. One day her family decided that the next time they went to visit her mother, they would bring the old man a card and some flowers, just to say they cared. After doing so, the nursing staff said the old man was a different person. He began participating in activities and was much kinder and more considerate to those around him.

If you have children, bring them to nursing homes. Souls are healed by being with children, and in many ways, so are the body and the mind. Children bring life and joy, and their mere presence can make somebody’s day in a nursing home.

Excerpt by John R. Wood, from Chapter 6 “Sacrifice and Service,” of his latest book The Light Entrusted to You: Keeping the Flame of Faith Alive (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2018), pp. 253-55 – “Visit the Sick and the Imprisoned.” www.ignatius.com

JOHN R. WOOD is a mobile eye doctor from Ohio, and a bestselling author – including the book Ordinary Lives, Extraordinary Mission. He and his wife, Kristin, are parents of four children. They have dedicated their lives to sharing their faith with others in practical and engaging ways through their ministry, Extraordinary Mission.


The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. Instructing, advising, consoling, and comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead. Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity; it is also a work of justice pleasing to God.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2447

Take a revelry in the beauty of Catholicism

This October, Legates can enter the inner orbit of the Catholic Church, during the exceptional Legatus pilgrimage to Rome where all will see the Church, both behind the scenes and on the world stage. The tour group will venerate the unassuming relics that seemed so insignificant to the mighty Roman Empire: the bones of St Peter—the fisherman killed in the wake of a mad emperor’s ambition—in the Vatican Scavi, the slivers of ancient wood that held the infant Christ in St. Mary Major, and the simple linen cloth that absorbed the blood of Christ in the Eucharistic miracle of Bolsena. Then pilgrims will marvel at how these humble seeds bore glorious fruit in the breathtaking basilicas and works of art.

Walking through the Coliseum, marveling at the crumbled vestiges of Imperial Rome, the Legatus group will learn how the Romans, who worshipped men as gods, came to believe, thanks to brave witness of the early Christians, in God-made-Man. A few steps further and we’ll stand before St. John Lateran, the first legal Christian church and the cathedral of Rome.

The centerpiece of the trip will be Vatican City state, where pilgrims will dive deep into the beauty and history of the Church, even as history is being made. In a private after-hours visit to the Sistine Chapel, the Legatus group will stand alone before the glorious paintings of Michelangelo revealing in powerful forms and brilliant color the invisible beginnings and ending of our great story of salvation. They will visit the enclave of the Swiss guards and learn the history of Europe’s oldest private army. Don’t let the colorful uniforms deceive— this group of young men offered their service to the pope 500 years ago and still proudly promise to protect the pope with their lives today. Legates will see their armory containing the ancient weapons used to save the life of Pope Clement VII to the brand-new, state-of-the-art helmets forged just this year.

Even as the group tours and learns and basks in beauty, they will witness the Church renewing herself.

Mostly the Legate tour group will partake in the joy of the Christian faith, expressed in the soaring frescoes of the great basilicas, the delightful fountains donated by generous popes, and even the fun of learning how to make pizza together!

Come and revel in the ancient true faith that remains vibrant and living, to renew hearts and spirits in the beauty that is the Catholic Church!

For more information on the Legatus 2018 Rome Pilgrimage Oct. 5-12, contact Kendall Ripley at Corporate Travel for details (866-468-1420) or kripley@ctscentral.net

ELIZABETH LEV is an American art historian living in Rome, and teaches art history at Duquesne University’s Italian campus and at the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas. She is a commissioner of the Tourism board of Rome and a consultant on art and faith for the Vatican Museums, for whom she authored Vatican Treasures: Art and Faith, a film that was presented to Pope Benedict XVI. She also works as a Vatican analyst for NBC.


… and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every craft. Exodus 31: 3-5


Pilgrimages evoke our earthly journey toward heaven and are traditionally very special occasions for renewal in prayer. Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2691