The Order of Malta, a 900-year-old religious order devoted to helping the sick, will hold its annual “World Day of the Sick” Mass at 3 p.m. Feb. 9 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Glendale. Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted will preside at the liturgy.
The World Day of the Sick was begun by Blessed John Paul in 1992 and is celebrated each year in commemoration of Our Lady of Lourdes.
With some 13,000 members worldwide who pray for the sick daily and care for the poor, the Order of Malta has a colorful history.
Present in Palestine in 1050, the order is a sovereign subject of international law, with its own constitution, passports, stamps and public institutions. They are perhaps best known for the pilgrimages to Lourdes they sponsor each year for the sick, known as malades. Millions of people visit Lourdes in hopes of being healed.
There are about 75 documented cases of cures associated with Lourdes, the site in France where the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette Soubrious 18 times in 1858.
John and Kay Sack have been to Lourdes several times with the Order of Malta.
“When we go to Lourdes the emphasis is on the malade,” Kay said. The first time she traveled to Lourdes with the order, it was as a volunteer. She didn’t understand the depth of what she would experience or how it was that some members return dozens of times to the site.
“You turn your life upside down and realize it’s not about me. You are in the presence of someone who is suffering,” Kay said. “It’s a very spiritual experience. It’s inspiring not only for the malades but for us who are able to be with them and pray with them.
The Sacks as well as many other members of the Order of Malta will be on hand at OLPH on Feb. 9 to celebrate the World Day of the Sick Mass. The liturgy includes anointing of the sick, the blessings of caregivers’ hands and a blessing with water from Lourdes.
Be sure to read the Feb. 20 issue of The Catholic Sun for an in-depth look at a woman from New Mexico who traveled to Lourdes in 2013 with the Order of Malta and was cured of advanced thyroid cancer. A West Valley couple who belong to the order met and prayed with her in Lourdes and now consider her their daughter.
The World Day of the Sick Mass will be held at 3 p.m. Feb. 9 at Our Lady of Perpetual Parish, 5614 W. Orangewood Ave., Glendale.