Monday, April 25, 2016

World Malaria Day

It seems odd to feel optimism when the subject of malaria arises, but it is necessary this year on World Malaria Day.  Year after year you could write that one child dies each minute in the world from malaria, a preventable and treatable disease, but this year is different.  The death rates and infection rates for malaria are falling because of increased worldwide efforts at control of this deadly disease, efforts which include mosquito abatement, protection of residences and mosquito netting for beds, improved diagnostic tests for malaria, and improved treatment options.   There were still a staggering 214 million cases of malaria in the world last year with 438,000 of those people not surviving their illness, but progress is being made.  Hopefully the ambitious 15 year World Health Organization goals including reducing malaria cases and deaths by at least 90% can be attained and maintained.

Those who serve in mission countries have a second reason to feel optimistic.  In addition to the blessing of seeing the improved health and life expectancy of those they serve, they know that these efforts also decrease their personal risk of acquiring malaria.  It is one of those times where those who reside in mission lands and those who come to serve share common risks and common personal concerns.  Hopefully malaria in mission lands will one day be like rotary phones; something you tell your children once existed as they stare back at you in disbelief.

Today's guest blog post is contributed by Dr. Tim Cavanagh. Dr. Cavanagh is a veteran Mission Doctor.  Tim and his wife Sheila served for three years in rural Zimbabwe and continue to serve on short-term missions in Africa and Latin America.  Additionally he serves as a member of the Board of Directors for Mission Doctors Association.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

World Health Day

This is what we are about, and have been about since 1959.

Striving to improve the health of men, women, and children in rural communities around the world.  Mission doctors provide direct patient care for people of all faiths. They provide training for health care workers to improve sustainability.  Doing so in response to their own Catholic faith. 

Today mission doctors are serving in areas impacted by malaria, TB, HIV, often exacerbated by extreme poverty. Areas with less than one doctor for every 10,000 (by contrast the US averages one for 400)

Please visit our web site to sign a prayer card for one of our doctors serving in Africa or Latin America, and learn how your can become involved.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Divine Mercy Sunday is a recent addition to the Roman liturgy as it was added by St. John Paul II in 2000 after his canonization of Sister Faustina Kowalska, a Polish sister whose visions of Christ as Divine Mercy led to this special devotion.

The mercy of Christ is for everyone- a theme which is central to this Year of Mercy- which we cannot be reminded about too much. It is not an abstraction Christ is merciful not just to humanity but to each of us individually (God loves me!).

Mercy is not just a Christian topic but a quality much admired and wanted by everyone.  Sometimes it is helpful to review what others say as a starting point for reflection.

What have others said about mercy?

· Abraham Lincoln: “I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.”

· William Shakespeare (Merchant of Venice):  “The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes….
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God's
When mercy seasons justice.”

· Graham Greene (Brighton Rock): You cannot conceive, nor can I, of the appalling strangeness of the mercy of God.”

· St. Augustine: “Every day my conscience makes confession relying on the hope of Your mercy as more to be trusted than its own innocence.”

· Jon Sobrino (famous Central American theologian):  “…it is mercy that stands at the origin of all that Jesus practices.”

· Joyce Meyer (famous TV evangelist): “Mercy is the stuff you give to people that don't deserve it.”

· St. Francis of Assisi (Letter to the Faithful): “Let those who have received the power of judging others, exercise judgment with mercy,  as they hope to obtain mercy from the Lord. For let judgment without mercy be shown to him that doth not mercy. Let us then have charity and humility and let us give alms because they wash souls from the foulness of sins.”

· Pope Francis: “In the past few days I have been reading a book by a Cardinal ... Cardinal Kasper said that feeling mercy, that this word changes everything. This is the best thing we can feel: it changes the world. A little mercy makes the world less cold and more just. We need to understand properly this mercy of God, this merciful Father who is so patient. ... Let us remember the Prophet Isaiah who says that even if our sins were scarlet, God's love would make them white as snow. This mercy is beautiful.”

Are we ready to be merciful to others? 
Do we choose to accept the overwhelming mercy from God for us? 
To help Mission Doctors Association show mercy to God’s poor through free medical care?

Today's guest blog post is contributed by Brother John Kiesler, OFM is a member of the facility of the Franciscan School of Theology in California. Brother John is a member of the Formation Facility for long-term missionaries through Mission Doctors and presents at the Annual Retreat Seminar on the theology of mission. Additionally he serves as a member of the Board of Directors for Mission Doctors Association.