Lourdes Day Mass celebrations in Melbourne
By: Denis Fitzgerald
The Order of Malta’s Lourdes Day Mass, on the first Saturday in December, is well established on the Melbourne calendar.
Again this year, on Saturday 6 December, thousands of people gathered in St Patrick’s Cathedral, many of them infirm or aged, to pray, to celebrate the Mass, and to open themselves to God’s grace.
We would all welcome healing from the afflictions that are part of life, but for many their main prayer is for the peace of mind and soul that Christ offers; and all welcome the faith, hope and love that are nourished by the liturgy and the Eucharist.
The Order of Malta is honoured to join with many from the Archdiocese of Melbourne in organising the event each year.
The Development Office, the Dean, priests and staff of the Cathedral, the musicians, ground staff, etc. are all needed to give life to an event of this nature.
Members of the Order, students from Newman College, Genazzano, Loreto Mandeville Hall, Xavier College and De La Salle College also contributed.
The hard work that goes into the day bears spiritual fruit, as worshipers gather from all parts of Melbourne to pray for those who are sick or infirm, to strengthen their faith in the Divine purpose that underlies all life, and to thank God for the blessings that have been showered on each one of us.
Archbishop Denis Hart again led the celebration of the Mass, supported by chaplains from the Order of Malta, priests of the Cathedral and Fr Tony Kerin, Episcopal Vicar for Justice and Social Service.
After blessing the congregation with Lourdes water before the final blessing, the Archbishop and other celebrants gathered outside the Cathedral after Mass to offer individual blessings – there were long lines for these.
Many also took the opportunity to congratulate Bishop-elect Monsignor Terry Curtain, a chaplain of the Order.
Participation in the Mass was enriched by the music – Marian hymns resonated throughout the Cathedral; harpist Peter Roberts set the tone before Mass, and the cantor’s Ave Verum Corpus and Panis Angelicus were heard in respectful and enriched silence.
Helen Burt and Sr Toni Matha ibvm, joined members of the Order of Malta in the offertory procession.
Members of the Order of Malta and their chaplains will again be organising Lourdes Masses in aged care residences throughout the year, but these celebrations do not seem to reduce the interest in the annual Mass at St Patrick’s.
Not everyone can visit Lourdes, where Our Lady appeared to St Bernadette in 1858, but many in the Melbourne Catholic community are keen to share in the blessings that flow from that time and place.
Pictures Kairos Catholic Journal/Casamento Photography: