On Saturday 9th February, the annual Mass in honour of Our Lady of Lourdes was celebrated by Bishop Paul McAleenan in Westminster Cathedral. Concelebrating were Cathedral Administrator Canon Christopher Tuckwell and the Cardinal’s Adviser for Healthcare Chaplains Fr Peter Michael Scott, as well as a number of priests from around the diocese.
Taking place just ahead of the World Day of the Sick, the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick was administered by the celebrants during Mass.
To begin the Mass, the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes was processed in with the Oil of the Sick, led by young pilgrimage volunteers carrying the pilgrimage banners.
The procession was accompanied by the lighting of candles and singing of ‘Ave Maria’ by the congregation, which was made up of the disabled, the sick and those who care for them as well as people who feel a special connection to Our Lady of Lourdes.
In his homily, Bishop Paul began by talking about how it was a privilege to celebrate this Mass. He went on to remind the congregation that God does not step away from our wounds and our suffering, but speaks to them and seeks to transform them, just as he transformed the water into wine at the wedding in Cana. ‘Often we do not see God’s hand in our life, because we are too full of everything else that is going on in the world’ he continued ‘we have to be like Mary, full of grace, not full of ourselves’ only then can God ‘speak to our burdens’.
Addressing those in the congregation who came for healing, he said ‘Everyone has a dignity. We are here because of your dignity. We are here to remind ourselves of the dignity of the sick and the love God has for you.’
Following the prayers of the faithful, the Liturgy of Anointing began with a prayer of thanksgiving over the Oil of the Sick, asking God to ‘ease the sufferings and comfort the weakness of your servants whom the Church anoints with this holy oil’.
At the end of Mass, Bishop Paul invited the lay chaplains present to come forward for a special blessing, and to thank them for bringing the presence of God to people often when they need it most.
The annual diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes takes place this year from 20th to 26th July 2019. For information about joining the pilgrimage or assisting those less able, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 7798 9173.
Pictures from the day, can be viewed here.