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Sermon for 15 February 2015



My Dear People,

Yesterday, 11th of February was the World day of Prayer for the sick; the memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes. Many came for the Anointing of the Sick Sacrament at the 9.30 Mass.

Our Lady never said to St Bernadette that she would heal people at Lourdes but from the very beginning of the Apparitions on this day in 1858, folk were cured. In fact one of the first was a woodsman who was blinded by a chip of wood flying out of the saw he was using to cut a tree. He bathed his eye in the little pool which Bernadette had created when Our Lady told her to wash her face. Bernadette had been humiliated because some of the crowd laughed at her when she washed her face in the muddy water of the miraculous little spring our Immaculate Mother had pointed out. Bernadette had to scrape the earth for there was no Water visible to the eye. However it proved to be the first miracle of Lourdes. His eye was restored. In Knock twenty five years ago a priest of this diocese told me that his sister - a nurse was assisting a patient with MS at Knock and at the Blessed Sacrament Procession her patient charge was cured instantly. The priest is dead now (may God be good to him) but he was our Dean at the time Father Joe.

The story of Lourdes is an ongoing one and many consolations and communications from God are given at that holy place and others like Medjugorje and Fatima. The one thing all these holy places have in common is that the Mother of God has visited there and blessed the place with her holy and motherly presence for the consolation of God’s humble people in painful and difficult times.

Freemasonry and Rational Liberalism ruled in France and in Portugal in 1858 and 1917. The rulers were all atheists and saw the Church as standing in the way of Progress – progress been judged only through the ruler's eyes of course. (Does it remind of our rulers now?)

Famine was not far away for the seers both in Lourdes and in Fatima. Ireland had just emptied two thirds of its population in the face of the Great Potato Blight Famine and the sufferings were so great, the story will never be fully told for the victims are dead or drowned on the way to the New World. Strangely enough in Britain freedom of religion was genuine and except for anti-Catholic Bigotry which was widespread, there was genuine improvement of religious freedom and the Catholic Bishops had just been restored to England in 1850 by the Pope.

Bernadette was illiterate and in poor health and the family was bankrupt. It was the need for fuel in a harsh mountain winter that caused her to go to the Rock of Masiebelle to look for drift wood that the River Gave might have carried down from the Pyrenees.

Then with a movement of wind and the bushes not moving she saw a light emerge from the cave on the rock above her little frame out of which emerged her beautiful lady who bowed to her and greeted her with such exquisite graciousness and kindness. "Would you be so kind to return here for (so many days)..." etc. she said to the 14 year old. The rest is history. Eighteen time our Lady came. Millions come to Lourdes every year still bringing their sick and handicapped, their dying and their deep personal intentions and there they find God’s comfort. Outsiders see us as only going to Lourdes for "A CURE" and think us as superstitious. How wrong they are. I do not know one who has gone to Lourdes for a Cure and only a CURE. Our Lord has told us to ask for everything "in his name" and in Lourdes that's what we do. We know God can work miracles and we pray for a miracle if that is God's will but we want God’s will. The Mother of God teaches you there to accept God's will. How many family troubles are cured there and they are not to do with illnesses but past hurts and grudges and injustices.

In the Gospel today it says "A leper came to Jesus and pleaded on his knees - if you want to you can cure me" Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him and at once he was cured.

NOW – that is exactly what you find in these holy places where Our Lady has appeared. There in Lourdes, Fatima, Medjugorje, Knock, Guadalupe etc - you first find the great crowds and then you find the successors of The Twelve Apostles - the Bishops of diocese with their clergy and disciples and all listening to the message of Jesus and celebrating his holy Mysteries which he gave to us the night before he died when He said "Do this in Memory of Me." They carry on the redeeming work of Christ. You find the thousands going to Confess their sins and receive our Lord’s forgiveness at the hands of His anointed Priests. Jesus breathed on them and said "Whose sins you forgive they are forgiven." The sick are anointed and have hands laid on them in the name of the Lord and many find healing and strength and the courage to face life (and death if this is God's will for them.).

There is so much to say and too little space. Believe me – the hand of God touches you there. So that is why the late Pope- St John Paul II - appointed this day as The International Day of Prayer for the Sick. He showed with his own example how to be really sick and full of the Spirit did he not? His last visit to Lourdes he told the pilgrim sick: "I come to you as one of you now..." What a saint we have in John Paul - So you sick – cheer up. God has chosen you and given you a great mission. Human life does not consist only in health and strength.

God Bless,

Father Tom Connolly.


NEXT WEDNESDAY 18TH IS ASH WEDNESDAY. MASSES AT 9.30 AM AND 6.30 PM ashes will be blest and distributed.

SALFORD DIOCESE PILGRIMAGE TO LOURDES 31ST July 6th August. Led by Bishop Arnold. If you come as a nurse or doctor you may get financial help. Lourdes Pilgrimage Office 794 2209 or website www.salfordlourdes.co.uk .

FORTY DAYS FOR LIFE. Lent Campaign. has been organised in Manchester beginning 15 February At St Kentigern’s Club at 7.30pm AND onward throughout the Lenten season. Come along and join this venture to save precious lives.

BISHOP'S VISIT. It went very well Bishop Arnold came on Tuesday last as part of his plan to visit each priest in his home. He spent an hour with me and was very friendly and warm and supportive and he spoke to Father George too. All seems well.

Bidding Prayers

Bidding Prayers for 6th Sunday of Year B.

Priest: God our Father leads us forward with great love towards the joyful day when we enter into His rest. We come now with all our needs and the needs of our waiting world.

Reader: For all who work with he sick and who are ministers of healing in their own way - that they be guided by the spirit of love which Christ our Lord has bequeathed to us to give us a greater dignity. Lord hear us.

For all who are seeking work and find themselves unemployed and especially in these times of economic troubles - that all may be able to earn their bread and so contribute to their families and he society. Lord hear us.

For all who work to heal leprosy and especially the Guild of St Francis in their work to alleviate the sufferers of leprosy – give success to their work O Lord. Lord hear us.

For all our engaged couples – that God will grant to them life long unions in marriage. Lord hear us.

We commend to the arms of the Good Shepherd and the Divine Physician those of our parish who are suffering from various sicknesses that they might be helped to share their suffering in union with Christ who suffered for us all: , Lord hear us.

Father have mercy on those who have died I the peace of Christ: receive them into the home you have prepared for them – AND For all those souls whose anniversaries occur about this time:

May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God...

O Mary, Conceived with out sin. /R.. Pray for us who recourse to thee.

O Mary you are the Mother of he all the living and the model of charity for us all. Hail Mary...

Priest: Almighty God – as in this prayer we offer you are needs – grant that in your kingdom, with all your saints we may, one day ever sing your praise. Through Christ our Lord.