Mass in Honour of Lady of Lourdes
On Saturday 11th February, the World Day of Prayer for the Sick, the annual Mass in honour of Our Lady of Lourdes was celebrated by Cardinal Vincent.
The Mass marked the start of 'Called to Serve the Sick', a season of focus on the sick and the obligation to care for them and their families. It is intended to be a time to become more aware of the Christian attitude to sickness and suffering and to remind both ill and able-bodied that the sick are important members of our community.
In his homily, Cardinal Vincent explained: ‘Today we set out, in the diocese, on a short season of special attention to the corporal work of mercy of caring for the sick. It is a follow-up to the Year of Mercy.’
In these weeks and months, he said, ‘we will reflect, in various ways and events, on how we can include to a greater extent all those who are afflicted by sickness of body or mind, together with their families.’
Reflecting on the Gospel reading, the parable of the Good Samaritan, the Cardinal drew attention to the implication of Jesus' response to the question of 'who is my neighbour': 'the one who is in need is my neighbour: no excuses, no escape clauses, no ducking'.
'This is how the Gospel is to work: through our hands, through our words, through our hearts. There is no other way. That is what the Incarnation means,' he added.
Looking at the congregation, composed of the sick and able-bodied, those who are ill and those who care for them, he said: 'I see people who are always both givers and receivers', expanding that 'God has asked us always to be both: generous in the care and gifts we offer, even from our bed or wheelchair; grateful in the gifts we receive, especially in our vigour and imagined self-reliance. Our faith has no real space for 'go-it-alone' heroes. We are brothers and sisters, recognising our needs and receiving God's gifts always through one another, often in unexpected ways!'
During Mass which was concelebrated by Bishop Paul McAleenan and many priests of the diocese, including those who minister as hospital chaplains, the laying on of hands and anointing with the Oil of the Sick took place.
For the first time, at the end of Mass, lay hospital chaplains were invited to come forward to receive a blessing from Cardinal Vincent.
The full text of the Cardinal's homily can be found here.