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Service for the Sick. 8th October 2009 at the Oratory.
Over the period 7th/8th October 2009, the relics of St Therese of Lisieux rested at the church of St Aloysius, the Oxford Oratory, for pilgrims to visit. During that period a Service for the Sick, lead by Fr Aldo Tapparo, Chaplain at the John Radcliffe Hospital, was held at which more than 60 sick people were anointed, and more than 500 people came to pray.
[During the 20 hours or so that she was here at least 6,500 queued to see the relics. If you click the link below - the photograph that appears was taken was taken at 11.41pm.]
First Reading : James 5:13-16
Is any one among you suffering? Let him pray. Is any cheerful? Let him sing praise.
Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord;
and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects.
Gospel reading Matthew 8:5-17
When he entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, appealing to him
and saying, "Lord, my servant is lying at home paralysed, in terrible distress."
And he said to him, "I will come and cure him."
The centurion answered, "Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed.
For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes, and to another, 'Come,' and he comes, and to my slave, 'Do this,' and the slave does it."
When Jesus heard him, he was amazed and said to those who followed him, "Truly I tell you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith.
I tell you, many will come from east and west and will eat with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven,
while the heirs of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
And to the centurion Jesus said, "Go; let it be done for you according to your faith." And the servant was healed in that hour.
When Jesus entered Peter's house, he saw his mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever;
he touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she got up and began to serve him.
That evening they brought to him many who were possessed with demons; and he cast out the spirits with a word, and cured all who were sick.
This was to fulfil what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah, "He took our infirmities and bore our diseases."
Homily given by Fr Aldo Tapparo......
|Not infrequently, as one works in the hospital wards you hear some people say, indeed, some here this afternoon might also have thought it, if not said it, “I don’t know what I have done to deserve this, Father!” They are speaking, of course, of the sickness that confines them to their beds or causes them some incapacity or incessant pain, as if their affliction was visited upon them from God as some punishment for wrongdoing. One has to admit that disease, disharmony, dysfunction and death all entered into the world as a result of sin, but to think that God wishes to inflict punishment upon us in this way is totally out of keeping with the God who loves us into existence and sustains us with that love, and thoughts such as these, I’m sure, emanate from the Evil One in order to undermine our faith in God’s love of us and his providential care. And I say this with some confidence for we only have to look into the pages of Scripture, we only need to have listened to the readings of our Service today to see that when the Word became Flesh and dwelt amongst us and when he entered into his public ministry, the curing of the sick was a large part of his mission and when he sent his disciples out in pairs, not only were they to preach the Good News but also to cure the sick..........
|Healing, then was an essential element of Christ’s mission which he has entrusted to his Church and elevated it to the dignity of a sacrament. And this is something that we should never forget because it enables us to turn our weaknesses into strength and use our infirmities for the benefit of our Church and our world as we unite them to the sufferings of Our Blessed Lord. It is through God’s grace that we are enabled to add our prayers, our labours and our trials, particularly the trial of sickness and infirmity, to those of our Lord "and fill up those things that are wanting in the sufferings of Christ" as St Paul says in his letter to the Colossians ( 1:24). Now this phrase may cause us to question whether Christ’s passion alone was insufficient to save us. It was, but we understand that phrase of St. Paul more fully when we listen to Pope John Paul II who wrote in his Encyclical Salvifici doloris (27), and he should certainly know, that when a person suffers “in the spiritual dimension of the work of Redemption he is serving, like Christ, the salvation of his brothers and sisters.” |
We are privileged.....
|We are privileged this afternoon to be present at this Service for the Sick before the Relics of a great Saint who experienced in her short life time, the affliction of ill heath and more besides. As you know, her health was never robust and she died from tuberculosis at the early age of 24. She nevertheless had the capacity which enabled her to see that the fragility of her emotional and physical state, which caused her so much suffering, enabled her to enter, in a very real way, into the passion of her Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
In the great poem of.......
|In the great poem of the Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman, the ‘Dream of Gerontius’ he speaks of the emptying out of each constituent of the old man Gerontius as he comes to die. This ‘emptying out’, as Newman puts it, could be similarly applied to St. Therese when, at an early age, she lost her mother which resulted in the family leaving the home she loved in order to move to Lisieux. Then losing her second mother Pauline when she entered Carmel, Therese lapsed into an illness which almost killed her, and only upon seeing a statue of the Blessed Virgin smiling at her was she cured. Having entered Carmel, herself, against great odds, her dearly beloved father became ill and lost his mind. In the convent she often felt lonely or passed over in favour of others; there were sisters in the community she found hard to love; prayer was often so dry and in the last two years of her life she suffered a great deal of darkness, even feeling that she had lost her faith. But all these hardships she experienced, all these things she suffered, none of them mattered to Therese. ‘Everything is a grace’ she learned to say and she grew to realise that everything was a gift from God and could be used to love him more. There was nothing too small for her to turn into an act of love. She said it was like unpetalling roses before him.
The statues that we have...........
|The statues that we have of St. Therese frequently portray her as holding a crucifix surrounded with roses. This portrayal may cause us to picture her as a sentimental saint. But the crucifix that she clasps to her breast depicts the closeness that she had to the cross and passion of Christ by the glad acceptance of her sufferings and the rose buds are surely the sign of those constant acts of love that she describes as rose petals offered to her Lord and her God.
For those who are sick and have come to celebrate this Sacrament of Healing we are privileged to be able to seek the intercession of St. Therese in the presence of her relics. And we ask her that she might help us to accept more willingly those things which afflict us so that when we are anointed we may experience, in addition to the healing and strengthening presence of Our Blessed Lord, the consecration of our suffering to Him, so that we, like Therese, may offer it to Him as a continuous act of love and by so doing become with her a power of love at the heart of the Church.
At the Mass last night.......
At the Mass last night after Father Robert had addressed us, he concluded with a prayer of St. Therese. In imitation of him I conclude this short homily also with a prayer:
St Therese, teach us to follow your way of confidence and trust. Help us to realise that a Father’s love watches over us each day of our lives. Obtain for us the light to see, in sorrow as in joy, in trials as in peace, the loving hand of our Father. Give us your own faith and trust so that we may walk in darkness as in the light holding fast to the way of love, knowing as you did, that everything is grace. Amen
Fr Aldo Tapparo
Our preacher at the Service for the Sick.
Fr Aldo is Parish Priest for St Anthony of Padua, Oxford.
Also he is Chaplain at the John Radcliffe Hospital and also at the Churchill Hospital, Oxford.
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