The Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, 11 February, is traditionally the day we set aside to pray for the sick and to give thanks for the tireless work of our carers and healthcare professionals.
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It’s hard to consider health and social care through any lens other than that of the global COVID-19 pandemic, but many need our prayers – those with Covid and those bearing their suffering from other mental and physical conditions.
The theme of the Day looks at how we should practise what we preach and reinforce the trust-based relationship needed to guide our care for the sick.
“You have but one teacher and you are all brothers”
It is drawn from the Gospel passage in which Jesus criticises the hypocrisy of those who fail to practise what they preach (cf. Mt 23:1-12).
As Pope Francis says in his message: “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.'”
Health and Social Care is a key area of the Church’s work. In 2021, we have already focussed on vaccination, organ donation and bioethics. Not to mention caring during the pandemic.
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In 2020, recognising that the COVID-19 pandemic affected everyone, many of the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales celebrated special Masses for the sick, their families, care workers and NHS staff. You can listen to the homilies here.
Pope Francis' message for the celebration of the twenty-ninth World Day of the Sick on 11 February 2021 explains how sickness raises the question of life’s meaning, which we bring before God in faith.