Bishop Larry Duffy has reminded all those attending the annual Clogher Diocesan Virtual Pilgrimage to Lourdes, that the celebration of the Sacrament of the Sick is as though Jesus is reaching out in love and care to all in need of healing. Bishop Duffy was speaking in the Sacred Heart Church in Clones, Co Monaghan on Friday 9 July, as the diocese hosted its annual Lourdes Pilgrimage online for the second year in a row.

Bishop Duffy said, “As I grow older I’m more conscious of personal health and what can damage it, I now wonder at the folly of a young person smoking or drinking alcohol to excess, or failing to take sufficient care of their health or safety. I hope the bill for those failings is not handed out in later life. Illness and advancing years are not easy. They can have profound effects on daily life. Today’s passage from the Gospel of Matthew shows us Jesus reaching out in love and care to the centurion’s servant. The servant is lying at home paralysed and in great pain. His life is a misery. The centurion comes to Jesus pleading for help and displaying great personal faith. Jesus praises that faith and the servant is healed. This is one of the many instances where Jesus heals by word or touch in response to faith.

Bishop Duffy said, “Jesus did not banish all illness and suffering. No! Instead, he took on the road of suffering himself. It is through his Cross he saved and redeemed humankind. In the Sacrament of the Sick today, Jesus reaches out in love and care to all in need of healing. He invites us to offer up or join our sufferings to his.

“Tonight, we pray with confidence as we celebrate this sacrament in solidarity with Saint Bernadette who endured much illness and suffering. She is our centurion: a lady of faith who pleads for us in the halls of heaven. Especially in this time of Covid-19 we pray for all medical and healthcare staff who care so lovingly for the sick.

Concluding his homily, Bishop Duffy said, “A final thought! I wonder how the servant in the Gospel got in in the days and years that followed. Was he constantly telling his story? Did he ever thank the centurion? Did he become a man of faith himself, caring and interceding for others? And how about the centurion? I wonder did his faith survive, and did he inspire many in the community to follow Jesus? Whatever! Jesus is the one who invites us to pray in faith for one another.
Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us! St Bernadette, pray for us!”

The Diocese of Clogher encompasses all of County Monaghan, virtually all of County Fermanagh and portions of Counties Tyrone, Donegal, Louth and Cavan. There are 37 parishes and 85 churches, served by 51 priests and 1 deacon. The Catholic population of the diocese is approximately 88,000.

For more on this year’s Clogher Diocesan Virtual Pilgrimage see www.clogherdiocese.ie.

ENDS