Saturday, November 28, 2009

Compassionate Healers Mass

Earlier this month I presided at the celebration of the annual Compassionate Healers Mass. This celebration was formerly known as the White Mass, so named because of the colour of the nurses uniforms and of those in health care. As clothing in hospitals and medical practices have changed so has the name of this Mass which prays for all those involved in Catholic Health Care and for the strength of this part of the ministry and mission of the Church. The new name reminds us of Christ who heals with compassion for the sufferings of his brothers and sisters (Mark 1, 40-45) and in whose mission of healing every baptized person is called to participate.

This Mass is sponsored by the Catholic Health Association of Saskatchewan and present at the Mass were Bert Yakichuk of the Board of Directors and Sandra Kary, CEO.

As the Mass was about to begin two symbols of Catholic Health Care were brought forward: the container of the Oil of the Sick, used in the celebration of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, and a book which contains charts. And here you can see the present nurse's uniform.

The readings from Scripture spoke of two incidents of healing: that by Peter after Jesus' Resurrection and that by Jesus of a leper. In a commentary on this Gospel episode, Fr. George Montague wrote: "Where others will not go lest they be stained, Jesus goes with the power to heal.” Jesus does not heal from afar. Jesus could simply will that the man be cleansed and he would be. He could just say: “be cleansed” and he would be. But Jesus chooses to immerse himself in that man’s human situation. As he reaches out and grabs hold of that leprous man, he grabs hold of his life and becomes a part of it and he heals him.

And I believe that it is here that we see what is unique in faith-based health care; what it is that faith-based health care brings to people who suffer from illness. When we visit or care for or treat someone who is ill, we see before us the sick man in the Gospel. We see someone who is loved by Christ who reaches out to them in us and through our hands touches them and brings them comfort, assurance and healing. And because Jesus immerses himself in their life, we see in them the presence of Jesus who seeks our love and our care and our comfort. And by our loving acts of healing we show our love for Jesus, who loves us to the end.
And so we prayed in the Responsorial Psalm: "Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all my being, bless his holy name...He pardons all your iniquities, he heals all your ills...As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him." It is good to remember that to "fear God" is not to be afraid of God, but to give to God the reverence and awe that is God's due.

Deacon Bob Williston proclaimed the Gospel of the healing of the Leper.

The Prayers of the Faithful were offered to God for all those in Health Care, for the sick and those who care for them.

The Gifts of Bread and Wine are brought forward for the celebration of the Eucharist.

Sr. Anastasia, the Director of Pastoral Services of the Archdiocese, with the help of her team organized this very special Eucharistic Celebration. She is seen here with the symbols of Catholic care of the sick that were brought forward as Mass began.

During the celebration of the Mass I was helped by Altar Servers from the Cathedral under the direction of Louisa Lacheur. Louisa is one of the Archbishop's Team of Servers who assist me at different Liturgies throughout the Archdiocese. These young people are a blessing to me and a great help in contributing to dignified celebrations.

After Mass people gathered for a reception. Msgr. Miller is seen here speaking with Marion Grady who is on the Archdiocesan Liturgy Commission and Fr. Marcotte is on the right.

On the left is Jean Mahoney, Chair of the Board of Directors of Santa Maria Nursing Home, speaking with Beverly Smith the CEO of Santa Maria. A new Board has been formed there and is actively working to assure the continuation of excellent care that has been given at Santa Maria.

Fr. Tonny Dizy, the Chancellor of the Archdiocese is speaking with Jim Schneider who is part of CHAS and who has long been active in promoting Catholic Health Care in Saskatchewan.