Lourdes Day Mass 2010
Lourdes Day Mass Celebrated By Archbishop Denis Hart at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne, on Saturday, 4 December 2010 at 10.30am
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This annual Lourdes Day celebration is an important recognition of the special relationship between Jesus Christ and those who are elderly and sick, united with the prayers of our Blessed Mother.
We are very much one with the spiritual and healing work of Lourdes which exemplifies the compassion and love of Christ shown in the Christian community. Spiritual and physical healing is offered to those who open their hearts to the Lord of healing and acquire a new mind and a new heart.
In this Advent time, as we wait for the coming of the Saviour, we ask that our hearts and lives may be renewed in love as we call to mind our sins, grateful for those who have brought us here and who accompany us in our every need.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today, as at Lourdes, we pray for our sick brothers and sisters, entrusting them to the loving care of God and the prayers of Mary, our Mother.
Lourdes has been a tremendous place of healing because it is a place of prayer. Indeed, the whole of the public life of Our Lord shows how he proclaimed the Word and healed the sick. Saint Matthew says that Our Lord went about Galilee teaching in the synagogues, preaching the Gospel of the kingdom and healing every kind of disease and sickness among the people. (Matthew 4:23)
Because the Church’s mission extends in time with the same teaching and commission given by Jesus, we are here to pray with and for those who are elderly and sick.
You and I know that Mary, the Mother and model of the Church, is venerated as the health of the sick. Pope Benedict said in his homily this year: “Mary is the first and perfect disciple of her Son and she is always shown accompanying the journey of the Church with special solicitude for the suffering”. This is given clear witness by the thousands who go to the various shrines to invoke the Mother of Christ and to find healing and comfort.
A significant event in Mary’s own life was that after she was told that she was to be the Mother of the Saviour she did not concentrate on her own mission, but immediately went to help her cousin, Elizabeth, who for six months had been carrying John in her womb. In the support which Mary gave to a relative who was in a delicate situation of pregnancy in an advanced age we see the whole action of the Church in supporting life in need of care.
My dear sisters and brothers who are elderly or sick and have come here with some effort, I thank you for your presence. I thank the volunteers from the Knights of Malta, our young people from schools and all who have helped in making this celebration a real moment of healing. At the end of the Mass Lourdes water, taken from the spring at Lourdes, is a telling reminder of the powerful, healing value of prayer and invocation of Mary, the Mother of God, the refuge of the sick.
In his own letter, which is closely associated with the anointing of the sick, Saint James exhorts the cheerful to sing praise and then shows the power of the great Sacrament of anointing. “Is any one among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the Church and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins he will be forgiven.” (James 5:14-15)
The work of Christ is prolonged through the Church who acts through priests. It is the same spirit that operates through the sacramental sign of the oil and it is to him that faith is directed expressed in prayer and as happened with the persons cured by Jesus one can say to each sick person, ‘your faith supported by the faith of brothers and sisters has saved you’.
My dear friends, this is a day of faith. Let us particularly entrust our elderly and sick people to the Lord. I do encourage them at home and in their parochial situation to seek anointing of the sick from their priest at the appropriate time, so that the sacramental power of anointing will be united to the tremendous prayer of today.
Pope Benedict wrote in the Encyclical, Spe Salvi: “The true measure of humanity is essentially determined in relation to suffering and to the sufferer.” (no. 38) The Church wishes to promote a world capable of receiving and looking after the sick, respecting their dignity as persons.
Finally, let us remember the thoughts of Venerable Pope John Paul II, who gave tremendous witness to the power of suffering in his own life and who wrote in the Apostolic Letter Salvifici Dolores: “At one and the same time Christ has taught man to do good by his suffering and to do good to those who suffer.”
May Mary with her compassion for Saint Elizabeth and her intercession for so many sick persons, particularly at Lourdes, pray for us now and always. Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.
+ Denis J. Hart,
ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE.