Depend upon love, mercy of God for healing

Lourdes, France (iStock)

This Tuesday, Feb. 11, is the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and, since 1993, has been observed by the Catholic Church as the World Day of the Sick. Lourdes is where our Blessed Mother appeared to Bernadette Soubrious in 1858. It has been and remains a site of 70 miraculous recoveries recognized by the Church and a countless number of conversions to the faith.

In May 1995, I accompanied Cardinal James A. Hickey to Lourdes where, on an extremely hot day, he processed with the Blessed Sacrament among those in great need of healing, blessing them as he passed. While we experienced discomfort due to the heavy vestments we wore, it was minimal compared to what those who waited for hours to be blessed had endured.

As we processed, I had the image of Jesus walking among the ill and the lame, most of whom needed assistance from their caregivers and nurses. I saw in those who lined our way the manifestation of their faith, trust, confidence and hope in our Lord as they received the blessing.

What we must keep in mind is that healing is not limited to the physical being. While everyone who goes to Lourdes might not be healed physically, they will receive some form of spiritual and/or emotional healing. No one leaves that experience without that grace. Healing starts with the Holy Spirit and our willingness to allow it to work in our lives. When we open our hearts to the Spirit and accept its guidance to depend upon the love and mercy of God, we have the foundation for the healing we will need at various times in our life.

A growing number of doctors, acknowledging the spiritual dimension of a person, recognize the value of prayer and meditation in the healing process. When one who is suffering extreme illness relies heavily upon faith in our God, often with the support and assistance of a faith community, they can experience a beautiful passage in their life that is filled with joy, hope and peace.

As a priest, I have been at the bedside of many people who have faced serious, oftentimes terminal, illnesses. These are times when the patient sees the reality of a medical diagnosis through the eyes of total faith in the healing power of God. I have seen the beautiful witness of people who cast their fears, cares and concerns upon the Lord, believing and knowing, as the psalmist writes, that the Lord will sustain them (Ps 55:23).

St. John Paul II, commemorating the World Day of the Sick in 1999, emphasized that point: “To the sick of every age and condition, to the victims of every kind of infirmity, disaster and tragedy, I extend my invitation to throw themselves into God’s fatherly arms. We know that life is a gift given to us by the Father as a sublime expression of his love, and that it continues to be a gift from him in every circumstance. All our most responsible choices, whose objective, because of our limitations, can sometimes seem obscure and uncertain, must be guided by this conviction.”

Let us pray that the sick take to heart that “invitation to throw themselves into God’s fatherly arms” and that they and their families and caregivers experience his love and mercy during their times of trial.

Scroll to Top