On the Feast of Our Lady Lourdes, Bishop Peter Collins of East Anglia celebrated a Mass at St John’s Cathedral, Norwich, with the anointing of the sick.
Fr Alan Hodgson, the Dean of the Cathedral, and other priests joined the Bishop for the annual event, which this year took place on 11th February. Daniel Justin led a range of music, and there were refreshments afterwards in the Cathedral Narthex.
In his homily, Bishop Peter spoke of life as a feast to be savoured. This did not mean, he said that it could be defined as the pursuit of self-indulgence, nor a journey that could be miraculously free of obstacles.
On this Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, he prayed for insight to understand the true nature of human life, including suffering.
He expounded the idea of “God’s cascading grace” in the reading from Isaiah, a river that consoles “on days when all seems well, and on days when despair threatens”. He contrasted the “sweet taste of fulfilment” which comes from this with “the stone jars of false expectation” which could never be filled.
While recognising that earthly life will always hold pain and loss, he said that we are duty bound to strive for healing. In doing so we had to rely on the cascade of abundant grace, for “without Christ we will run out of wine”.
He encouraged his listeners to hunger only for what is authentic. “Dig down into the earth until you find the cascade of water,” he urged, “into the soul until you find the flow of grace, into the pain until you find the healing balm.”
“We must discover,” he concluded, “that now is the time to taste and see that life is a feast to be savoured. Now is the time for healing. The Almighty works marvels for me. Holy is His name.”