Mass draws people seeking healing for body, mind, spirit
By Albert de Zutter
Catholic Key Editor
LEAWOOD, Kan. - They came for healing in mind, body and spirit -the aged, the infirm, as well as the relatively young and strong. Some 235 people came to the Cure of Ars Church for the 9th annual Anointing Mass sponsored by the Knights and Ladies of the Order of Malta, conducted according to the practices at Lourdes.
Albert de Zutter/Key photo
Teresa Fisk receives the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick from Bishop Raymond J. Boland.
Some were there because of breathing difficulties. Many were there because they were battling cancer. Some, appearing to be sound in body, were there to ask for strength in combating drug dependencies past or present. Some, including family members or friends of the petitioners, sought spiritual strength.
Four bishops and several priests from both sides of the state line administered the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. Coadjutor Bishop Robert W. Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph was the presider as bishops and priests concelebrated the Mass. Flanking him were Bishop Raymond J. Boland of Kansas City-St. Joseph, and Archbishop Joseph Naumann and Archbishop Emeritus James P. Keleher of Kansas City in Kansas.
"I was about to have an operation for colon cancer," said a 73-year-old petitioner, who preferred to remain unnamed. "So I thought there wouldn't be anything that could help more than getting anointed. I hear different things from different doctors, so this is one thing I can be sure of."
Toni Berkel, 80, in a wheelchair and breathing oxygen through tubes in her nose, said, "God's been pretty good to me. I could be a lot worse off." She has had both knees replaced and can still walk some and get her chores done with the help of her husband.
Victor Davila, 41, was recently diagnosed with diabetes. He was there with his wife Michelle, daughter Celest, and his father Jessie, who had undergone brain surgery.
Teresa Fisk recently had surgery for breast cancer. She was there with her husband Mark, and her father and mother, Jim and Gloria Zipf.
Larry Moore of Channel 9 read a passage from Hosea, "It is love I desire, not sacrifice."
The Gospel was the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. In his homily, Archbishop Naumann thanked those who came to be anointed for the example of faith they provided, and also thanked those who accompanied them.
Referring to the Gospel reading, he said, "Our piety is fleeting. We believe in the faithfulness of God and pray that we can keep faith in adversity."
Contrasting the attitude of prayer between the Pharisee ("Oh God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity") and the tax collector ("Oh God, be merciful to me, a sinner"), he said, "The Pharisee spent half of his prayer in running down other people. The publican, on the other hand, was appealing to God to love him not because of his own goodness, but because of God's goodness. We don't come to God in our perfection, but in humility."
He said Jesus healed others in his day, and said, "The Lord continues to heal in our own day in many places, including Lourdes."
Pope John Paul II wrote in an apostolic letter, "On Human Suffering," ("Salvifici Doloris," 1984), that suffering is not the result of personal sin but of the fractured nature of the human condition, Bishop Naumann said. "Jesus, the innocent one, suffered for nothing that he had done."
Another point the pope made was that suffering contains the power to save others. Also, that no one is immune from human suffering. "We must take up our cross and identify our suffering with the suffering of Jesus."
"Almost always the sufferer asks 'Why?'" Archbishop Naumann said. The pope's answer is that the Lord himself is suffering and invites us to share in the task of saving the world.
"Suffering is a tool for change, a tool for evangelization," Archbishop Naumann said, and can "provoke a desire for Jesus."
"It can effect change for those we pray for," he said.