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Dear St. Martin’s Parishioners,

Feb. 11, 1858, marked the first of multiple apparitions of Our Blessed Mother to a young girl named Bernadette Soubirous in Lourdes, France. In one of her apparitions, Mary instructed Bernadette to dig with her hands in the mud. As a shocked crowd looked on, water began to spring forth from where she was digging. Soon after, pilgrims began to flock to Lourdes to honor our Blessed Mother under the title Our Lady of Lourdes and to bathe in the miraculous and healing waters. Because of the many cures that have occurred there, the sick and those with terminal illnesses are especially drawn to Lourdes. My cousin’s husband was diagnosed with a very rare and incurable form of cancer when he was just forty years old. He went to Lourdes seeking a physical cure, but his healing proved to be on the spiritual level. He died with great courage, peace and faith, reconciled with God and surrounded by his wife and six kids only a few months after going to Lourdes.

The Church celebrates the World Day of Prayer for the Sick on February 11. One of the great developments in world history is the care for the sick that Christianity advanced. Jesus continually healed people of their physical, mental and spiritual illnesses. He even insisted that our final judgement would take into account our treatment of the sick (“I was sick and you visited me.”). What we know of today as the in-patient hospital was an invention of the Church a few centuries after Christ. Countless saints have dedicated their lives to serving Christ in the person of the sick. St. Teresa of Calcutta is a recent notable example.

We have been entrusted with continuing Jesus’ merciful care of the sick. As priests, we offer the sacrament of anointing of the sick to those who are seriously ill or who are undergoing medical procedures. Once a month, we offer a First Friday evening Mass followed by healing prayers before the Blessed Sacrament. One of our gravest obligations is to regularly visit the homebound to pray with them and celebrate the sacraments. The greatest gift we offer the sick is Holy Communion, “the medicine of immortality.” Especially today, when people are mistakenly valued according to their productivity, the Church must witness to the dignity of each person as created in the image and likeness of God. Our divine origin is the source of our dignity, a dignity which is not diminished but, rather, magnified in our sickness and weakness.

In Christ, the Divine Physician,

Fr. Dave

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