Each year since 1992, when Pope St. John Paul II began its observance, the Church has set aside the day of February 11, the memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes, as a special day of prayer for the sick. Lourdes is a place of great blessing and consolation for the sick. There, through the intercession of the Blessed Mother, who appeared in the grotto on the side of a hill to St. Bernadette, many sick have been healed and many more have found peace in their suffering.
The World Day of Prayer for the Sick was instituted to remind us all that those who are sick and suffering are in need of our care and our prayer. To set aside such a day is an opportunity to devote special attention to the sick and to those who provide them with assistance and care both in healthcare institutions and within families and communities.
It has been my practice on this Sunday closest to February 11 to visit one of our Catholic care facilities in the state to celebrate the Sacrament of the Sick with those who are elderly or dealing with health challenges which have brought them to seek assistance in these facilities. That, of course, is not possible this year. What we can do, however, together, is to pray for all of those involved in healthcare, both those who receive it and those who provide it. And, as we offer that prayer, we can do it with gratitude for the gift of a healthcare system which works to serve all who seek assistance in need.
Illness cannot always be healed, but hopelessness can always be answered by kindness and care which is respectful of the dignity of the human person. Healed by the love of God we know in Jesus, we ask him to help us to serve others, sharing our hope with those who need it.