Ahead of the celebration of the World Day of the Sick on 11 February 2021, the Bishops’ Council for Healthcare offers the following Novena to Our Lady of Lourdes to pray for those who are sick, for all who work in the medical profession, and for an end to the pandemic. The Novena begins on Wednesday 3 February and concludes on Thursday 11 February – the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and World Day of the Sick.
Novena to Our Lady of Lourdes (3 – 11 February 2021) to pray for those who are sick, for all who work in the medical profession, and for an end to the pandemic
1. Make the sign of the Cross
2. Say the novena prayer
3. Pray a decade of the rosary.
4. The invocations
5. Read the reflection for each day.
6. The Confiteor
7. To conclude recite the Act of Spiritual Communion
Our Lady of Lourdes,
you appeared at the grotto of Massabielle
to Bernadette, a simple shepherdess.
You brought her the radiant light of your smile,
the gentle, resplendent brightness of your presence.
Day by day, you built a relationship with her
where you gazed at her gently as one person talking to another.
We, too, come before you in our poverty,
and we humbly pray to you.
May those who doubt discover the joy of trust.
May those who despair sense your discreet presence.
Our Lady of Lourdes,
you revealed your name to Bernadette
by simply saying “I am the Immaculate Conception”.
May we discover the joy of a forgiveness that never falters.
Instil in us the desire for a rediscovered innocence and a joyful holiness.
Help the blinded sinner.
You who gave birth to the Saviour of the world,
look tenderly on our beautiful but tragic world.
Open in us the path of hope,
Guide us to the One who is the Living Source,
Jesus, your Son, who teaches us to call God Father.
Decade of the Rosary
Wednesday 3rd – The first Glorious Mystery – The Resurrection
Thursday 4th – The First Luminous Mystery – The Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan
Friday 5th – The First Sorrowful Mystery – The Agony in the Garden
Saturday 6th – The First Joyful Mystery – The Annunciation
Sunday 7th – The Second Glorious Mystery – The Ascension
Monday 8th – The Second Joyful Mystery – The Visitation
Tuesday 9th – The Second Sorrowful Mystery – The Scourging at the Pillar
Wednesday 10th – The Third Glorious Mystery – The Descent of the Holy Spirit
Thursday 11th – The Second Luminous Mystery – The Wedding Feast at Cana
“Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us!”
“Saint Bernadette, pray for us!”
“O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!”
Wednesday 3 February
In telling the parable of the ‘Good Samaritan’ Jesus offers his disciples a model of how we should behave towards others particularly towards those who are suffering. Noticing those who need our help, becoming a “neighbour”, listening, empathy, compassion and action are all crucial. Reflect for a few moments in silence on how you are responding to Jesus invitation to be a ‘Good Samaritan’.
Thursday 4 February
The experience of sickness makes us realize our own vulnerability, our innate need for others, and even more so, our dependence on God. Sickness can help us get closer to God, but sometimes, unfortunately, to move away from God as well. It can be a time of grace or a time of misfortune. Reflect for a few moments in silence on what your feelings towards God are in times of illness and suffering?
Friday 5 February
Sickness sometimes prompts a search for meaning in life and a new direction for our existence. We need to address this in our own experience but also to help others who are sick to find meaning in their experience as well. Reflect for a few moments in silence on the quality of your presence to those who are sick in your own circle of family and friends.
Saturday 6 February
There are some in our society who are ignored, excluded, or victims of social injustices that deny their fundamental rights, including the right of access to the necessary healthcare. Reflect for a few moments in silence on how access to healthcare, and other fundamental services, is granted to the vulnerable people in our society? How can we help our policy makers to promote healthcare as a common primary good?
Sunday 7 February
The Church, the community of lay faithful, religious and clergy together, is called to care and assist the needy who live among us. Reflect for a few moments on how much time I devote to volunteering to help our brothers and sisters in need?
Monday 8 February
During the pandemic, we have observed the dedication and generosity of health care professionals, and many other frontline workers. They have treated, comforted and served many sick, elderly and vulnerable people in our communities. Reflect for a few moments in silence on what we have learned from the dedication and commitment of frontline workers in healthcare, and in the wider community, and the hope that they bring to us for the future of our society.
Tuesday 9 February
During the past year we have rediscovered an appreciation for the gift of human life in all its stages and the lengths to which we go to protect and save life. Reflect for a few moments in silence on how we are called to guard and protect all human life as sacred.
Wednesday 10 February
Communal solidarity is expressed in various ways to support our neighbour. Caring for our sick and suffering brothers is not a task only for health care/pastoral workers. Christian love generates a healing community, that does not leave anyone behind, is inclusive and welcomes the most vulnerable. Reflect for a few moments in silence on how we can help build a community that reaches out to those who are most vulnerable.
Thursday 11 February – Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes
At the heart of Pope Francis’ message for this World Day of the Sick is an insistence that for therapy to be effective it must have a “relational aspect” which can enable a more holistic approach to the person who is sick or suffering. Pope Francis points to the example of Jesus in the gospel who “heals not by magic but as the result of an encounter, an interpersonal relationship”. Reflect for a moment on how I can bring healing by developing a deeper relationship with those who need myassistance.
I confess to almighty God
and to you,
my brothers and sisters,
that I have greatly sinned,
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done and in what I have failed to do,
through my fault, through my fault,
through my most grievous fault;
therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin,
all the Angels and Saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord our God.
Act of Spiritual Communion
I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,
and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there
and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.
Message of His Holiness Pope Francis For The XXIX World Day Of The Sick 2021
“You have but one teacher and you are all brothers” (Mt 23:8). A trust-based relationship to guide care for the sick
Dear brothers and sisters,
The celebration of the XXIX World Day of the Sick on 11 February 2021, the liturgical memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes, is an opportunity to devote special attention to the sick and to those who provide them with assistance and care both in healthcare institutions and within families and communities. We think in particular of those who have suffered, and continue to suffer, the effects of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic. To all, and especially to the poor and the marginalized, I express my spiritual closeness and assure them of the Church’s loving concern.
1. The theme of this Day is drawn from the Gospel passage in which Jesus criticizes the hypocrisy of those who fail to practise what they preach (cf. Mt 23:1-12). When our faith is reduced to empty words, unconcerned with the lives and needs of others, the creed we profess proves inconsistent with the life we lead. The danger is real. That is why Jesus uses strong language about the peril of falling into self-idolatry. He tells us: “You have but one teacher and you are all brothers” (v. 8).
Jesus’ criticism of those who “preach but do not practise” (v. 3) is helpful always and everywhere, since none of us is immune to the grave evil of hypocrisy, which prevents us from flourishing as children of the one Father, called to live universal fraternity.
Before the needs of our brothers and sisters, Jesus asks us to respond in a way completely contrary to such hypocrisy. He asks us to stop and listen, to establish a direct and personal relationship with others, to feel empathy and compassion, and to let their suffering become our own as we seek to serve them (cf. Lk 10:30-35).
2. The experience of sickness makes us realize our own vulnerability and our innate need of others. It makes us feel all the more clearly that we are creatures dependent on God. When we are ill, fear and even bewilderment can grip our minds and hearts; we find ourselves powerless, since our health does not depend on our abilities or life’s incessant worries (cf. Mt 6:27).
Sickness raises the question of life’s meaning, which we bring before God in faith. In seeking a new and deeper direction in our lives, we may not find an immediate answer. Nor are our relatives and friends always able to help us in this demanding quest.
The biblical figure of Job is emblematic in this regard. Job’s wife and friends do not accompany him in his misfortune; instead, they blame him and only aggravate his solitude and distress. Job feels forlorn and misunderstood. Yet for all his extreme frailty, he rejects hypocrisy and chooses the path of honesty towards God and others. He cries out to God so insistently that God finally answers him and allows him to glimpse a new horizon. He confirms that Job’s suffering is not a punishment or a state of separation from God, much less as sign of God’s indifference. Job’s heart, wounded and healed, then makes this vibrant and touching confession to the Lord: “I had heard of you by word of mouth, but now my eye has seen you” (42:5).
3. Sickness always has more than one face: it has the face of all the sick, but also those who feel ignored, excluded and prey to social injustices that deny their fundamental rights (cf. Fratelli Tutti, 22). The current pandemic has exacerbated inequalities in our healthcare systems and exposed inefficiencies in the care of the sick. Elderly, weak and vulnerable people are not always granted access to care, or in an equitable manner. This is the result of political decisions, resource management and greater or lesser commitment on the part of those holding positions of responsibility. Investing resources in the care and assistance of the sick is a priority linked to the fundamental principle that health is a primary common good. Yet the pandemic has also highlighted the dedication and generosity of healthcare personnel, volunteers, support staff, priests, men and women religious, all of whom have helped, treated, comforted and served so many of the sick and their families with professionalism, self-giving, responsibility and love of neighbour. A silent multitude of men and women, they chose not to look the other way but to share the suffering of patients, whom they saw as neighbours and members of our one human family.
Such closeness is a precious balm that provides support and consolation to the sick in their suffering. As Christians, we experience that closeness as a sign of the love of Jesus Christ, the Good Samaritan, who draws near with compassion to every man and woman wounded by sin. United to Christ by the working of the Holy Spirit, we are called to be merciful like the Father and to love in particular our frail, infirm and suffering brothers and sisters (cf. Jn 13:34-35). We experience this closeness not only as individuals but also as a community. Indeed, fraternal love in Christ generates a community of healing, a community that leaves no one behind, a community that is inclusive and welcoming, especially to those most in need.
Here I wish to mention the importance of fraternal solidarity, which is expressed concretely in service and can take a variety of forms, all directed at supporting our neighbours. “Serving means caring … for the vulnerable of our families, our society, our people” (Homily in Havana, 20 September 2015). In this outreach, all are “called to set aside their own wishes and desires, their pursuit of power, before the concrete gaze of those who are most vulnerable… Service always looks to their faces, touches their flesh, senses their closeness and even, in some cases, ‘suffers’ that closeness and tries to help them. Service is never ideological, for we do not serve ideas, we serve people” (ibid.).
4. If a therapy is to be effective, it must have a relational aspect, for this enables a holistic approach to the patient. Emphasizing this aspect can help doctors, nurses, professionals and volunteers to feel responsible for accompanying patients on a path of healing grounded in a trusting interpersonal relationship (cf. New Charter for Health Care Workers , 4). This creates a covenant between those in need of care and those who provide that care, a covenant based on mutual trust and respect, openness and availability. This will help to overcome defensive attitudes, respect the dignity of the sick, safeguard the professionalism of healthcare workers and foster a good relationship with the families of patients.
Such a relationship with the sick can find an unfailing source of motivation and strength in the charity of Christ, as shown by the witness of those men and women who down the millennia have grown in holiness through service to the infirm. For the mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection is the source of the love capable of giving full meaning to the experience of patients and caregivers alike. The Gospel frequently makes this clear by showing that Jesus heals not by magic but as the result of an encounter, an interpersonal relationship, in which God’s gift finds a response in the faith of those who accept it. As Jesus often repeats: “Your faith has saved you”.
5. Dear brothers and sisters, the commandment of love that Jesus left to his disciples is also kept in our relationship with the sick. A society is all the more human to the degree that it cares effectively for its most frail and suffering members, in a spirit of fraternal love. Let us strive to achieve this goal, so that no one will feel alone, excluded or abandoned.
To Mary, Mother of Mercy and Health of the Infirm, I entrust the sick, healthcare workers and all those who generously assist our suffering brothers and sisters. From the Grotto of Lourdes and her many other shrines throughout the world, may she sustain our faith and hope, and help us care for one another with fraternal love. To each and all, I cordially impart my blessing.
Rome, Saint John Lateran, 20 December 2020,
Fourth Sunday of Advent