Now that the holiday season is behind us, we have a stretch of time until Lent begins, although this does not mean that the Sunday Mass between now and Lent is somehow unimportant. Rather, we are invited to walk with our Lord as he begins his earthly ministry. Keep in mind that the season of ORDINARY TIME does not mean plain, dull, mediocre, or insignificant. Ordinary Time refers to ORDERED time, meaning that each Sunday, we are following the public ministry of Jesus in an ORDERED and SEQUENTIAL fashion. Nothing about our faith is ever ordinary or unimportant.
Beginning with the new year (and this month), we will be having a monthly HEALING MASS, each Wednesday evening at our usual Mass time of 6:30pm. This Healing Mass, where the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick is offered, will be held each month, on the LAST WEDNESDAY of the month. However, for the month of February, the last Wednesday of the month just happens to be Ash Wednesday. Although that day will not be a Healing Mass, we will resume with the month of March and the following months as well. The first Mass will be on WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 25TH at 6:30pm, with the Mass taking place in the Main Church.
Please keep in mind a couple of things about Healing Masses in general, and the Anointing of the Sick. There are 2 groups of people that the liturgical guidelines of the Church envisage taking part in this sacrament. The first are senior citizens and those of an advanced age. By virtue of being older, and the health concerns of said persons, the sacrament is supposed to be generously available to them. The second group of people are persons with very serious health concerns, or people going in for serious surgery, or people recovering from very serious surgery. So, what does that mean?
In general, a person who is relatively in good health and NOT advanced in age, unless they have a serious medical condition, is not meant to receive this sacrament. Going in for outpatient surgery, for something relatively minor, does not require the Anointing of the Sick. A person in good health, who has a cold, the flu, or if they slept the wrong way and now have a sore neck, (something non-life threatening) does not need to be anointed.
For Healing Masses, people sometimes come forward to be anointed when they do not need to be anointed. They might feel like this is the same as Holy Communion and that everyone in the church is expected to come forward for the anointing. This is NOT the case. Furthermore, some people think they can be anointed on behalf of somebody else who is not present at the Mass. I have encountered people at Healing Masses where someone will say, “I’m being anointed for my son who lives in California.” This is NOT done. A person can never receive the Anointing of the Sick by proxy, on behalf of someone else. If someone has a loved one in need of healing, they are more than welcome to come to a Healing Mass and PRAY for that person, but that is all.
I feel the need to address this because there is certainly confusion about what a Healing Mass is and who is supposed to receive the Anointing of the Sick. Please keep these things in mind if you will be joining us on Wednesday, January 25th, and for future Healing Masses.
~ Fr. Martin Gallagher