This annual mass, which is an initiative of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland for all involved in the care of the sick – doctors, nurses, carers, members of the Hospitalités of Lourdes –was held in St. Andrew’s Cathedral on 9th February, the nearest Sunday to the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. Principal concelebrant Archbishop Tartaglia was joined by Fr. Frank Wilson, chaplain of St. Margaret’s Hospice in Clydebank and Deacon Kevin Kelly (who appropriately is a qualified nurse). The music of the Liturgy was led by the St. Mungo Singers.
Before the service began, the choir sang Noel Donnelly’s setting of the Hail Mary and the Arcadelt Ave Maria, as well as Dr. Donnelly’s Healing Song. The Mass itself began with Bernadette Farrell’s inspiring “Christ, be our Light” which linked so well with the readings. The psalm chosen for the Mass was Psalm 68 – a psalm of pleading for God’s help in time of need. The Gospel verse echoed Christ’s response “Come to me, all you that labour with burdens too great”.
In his homily, Archbishop Tartaglia opened by commending to the prayers of all present the newly appointed Bishop of Paisley Fr. John Keenan. He then turned to the Gospel reading and reminded the congregation that Jesus who healed the sick as a sign of the coming of the Kingdom, calls us to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Pope Francis too, he said, exhorts us to go to the margins of our world. The sick, particularly the chronically sick are on the margins today in a world which favours the young, the beautiful, the perfect. For the sick, we are to be salt and light, the light of Christ. The Pope invites us to take Mary as our model in this work. She accompanies each of us in our journey to the Resurrection. He finished with a prayer to Our Lady of Lourdes to pray for the sick and those who care for them.
After the readings, those present were invited to make an Act of Recommitment (taken from Pope John Paul II’s exhortation Evangelium Vitae). This was followed by the sung Creed and the Intercessions. John Bell’s “We cannot measure how you heal” was a fitting hymn during the Preparation of the Gifts and the final recessional hymn to St.Peregrine (patron saint of cancer sufferers) sought the intercession of the saint for those who are sick and their carers, particularly those affected by cancer.