by Marc and Julie Anderson
LEAWOOD — How can Mary, the Mother of God, inspire pastoral care of the sick?
That was the theme of Cardinal Raymond Burke’s homily at the annual White Mass celebrated at the Church of the Nativity in Leawood on Feb. 11.
Concelebrating with Cardinal Burke were Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, Bishop James V. Johnston Jr. of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph and regional priests. The Mass was sponsored by the Sts. Cosmas and Damian Guild of the Catholic Medical Association and drew 350 to 400 participants from both the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. A luncheon followed in the parish hall.
The Catholic Medical Association is a physician-led organization of members who come together “in order to grow in the spirit of Christ in our personal and professional lives, to bring his spirit to all that is touched by our science and art, and to assist the Vicar of Christ, the bishops and the whole Christian community with leadership, especially with the particular knowledge, skill and experience we have as Christian physicians.”
The White Mass, celebrated in white liturgical vestments, is named in honor of the traditional white worn by doctors and nurses. Celebrated to pray for all those serving in health care from doctors to orderlies, the Mass is celebrated near one of two days on the church’s calendar. Some dioceses celebrate the Mass on or near Oct. 18, the feast of St. Luke, the patron saint of doctors. Other dioceses celebrate a White Mass on or around the World Day of the Sick, Feb. 11, a day first proclaimed by Pope John Paul II in October 1992 and first celebrated in 1993.
Cardinal Burke began his homily by saying it was appropriate to celebrate the White Mass and World Day of the Sick on the memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes. Through Mary, people learn to look on the suffering with tenderness and love, he said. Adding that countless pilgrims have visited Lourdes and continue to do so today, the cardinal said pilgrims are also led to a deeper love and understanding of the “power of the rosary for healing” as well as for “strengthening those who care for [the sick and suffering].”
The cardinal further discussed how the Blessed Virgin Mary’s model of faithfulness, as contained in the Gospel account of the miracle at Cana, should inspire everyone to be “obedient to the counsel of our Blessed Mother. We must do what Christ tells us.”
Elsewhere in his remarks, the cardinal reflected the words of Pope John Paul II. In 2003, the saint wrote in his annual message for World Day of the Sick that it was his earnest hope that it would “inspire in dioceses and parishes a renewed commitment to the pastoral care of the sick. Proper attention must be given to the sick who remain at home, given that less and less time is actually being spent in the hospital and the sick are often being entrusted to their own families.”
Continuing the theme, the cardinal said those who care in any way for the sick, no matter how large or small, participate in the ministry of Christ. He urged everyone in attendance to bring the healing love of Christ to the sick and suffering entrusted to their care.
Near the end of his homily, Cardinal Burke shared another passage from the 2003 World Day of the Sick message.
“The World Day of the Sick offers a special opportunity to strive to be ever more generous disciples of Christ the good Samaritan. Be aware of your identity and learn to recognize in those who suffer the face of the sorrowful and glorious Lord. I entrust you all to the immaculate virgin, Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas and health of the sick. May she hear the prayers that rise from the world of suffering, may she dry the tears of those in pain, may she stand beside those who are alone in their illness, and, by her motherly intercession, may she help believers who work in the field of health care to be credible witnesses to Christ’s love.”
Finally, the cardinal commended everyone to the Blessed Virgin’s immaculate heart and the eucharistic heart of Jesus and to the intercession of St. Bernadette Soubirous, the saint who witnessed the apparitions of Our Lady of Lourdes.