National Catholic Register

Culture of Life

Lourdes and the Superhero Question

User’s Guide to Sunday

BY Tom & April Hoopes

February 1-7, 2009 Issue | Posted 1/23/09 at 11:01 AM


Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009 is the Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year B, Cycle I)

Parish offers best parish practices. is one parish’s Rosary site.

Pope Benedict XVI asked Catholics to say the Rosary every day. So did Pope John Paul II, citing Our Lady of Fatima and the urgency to pray for peace and the family.

St. Paschal Baylon Catholic Church in the Los Angeles Archdiocese is promoting the Rosary online. Father Dave Heney, the pastor, told EPriest that their Come Pray the Rosary website “has become a place that is always open for parishioners to join others in praying the Rosary, posting prayer intentions, and meditating on the mysteries of our faith.”

Parishioners George Esseff and Michael Emerson created the site to help Catholics from around the world pray the Rosary together or individually.

At the site (above), click on “Enter Church”; this will take you to a window displaying a video of Father Heney reciting the Rosary with parishioners.

Consider creating a similar site for your parish. Details at or at the site itself.


With the World Day for Consecrated Life on Feb. 8 and Our Lady of Lourdes on Feb. 11, what better time to watch the black-and-white classic The Song of Bernadette (1943)?

That story ends with a dramatic presentation of Bernadette’s acceptance of personal suffering as a nun.

If your family rebels at black-and-white movies, the Sydney Penny Bernadette is a faithful retelling of the story of Lourdes — and its sequel, The Passion of Bernadette, may very well make the same point as The Song of Bernadette. We don’t know. Though we borrowed a copy from Tom Wehner, the Register’s associate editor, months ago, we never ended up watching it — and he finally needed it back.


Job 7:1-4, 6-7; Psalm 147:1-2, 3-4, 5-6; 1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23; Mark 1:29-39 offers free homily packs for priests.

Our Take

Today’s Gospel describes Jesus going around doing good: curing people, casting out demons (the Gospel writers clearly understand that these are two very different things) and praying.

It raises the “superhero question.” Not “Was Christ a superhero?” He wasn’t. He was the second person of the Trinity who created the universe, and therefore, master of it down to its last particle. The question it raises is: “What would you do if you had the ability to save people who desperately needed it?”

Christ’s answer: He tired himself out curing and healing, pacing himself so that he didn’t stay in one place, but shared the gift in such a way as to make the greatest impact possible. He cured people close to him, people in his hometown, and then moved on.

But the thing is: The second reading addresses the same question. St. Paul, too, spends his time going from town to town, bringing healing to people. But the healing he brings is spiritual. “Woe to me if I do not preach” the Gospel, he says. His concern is to “win over as many as possible.”

He knows that he has the ability to introduce people to Christ, casting out the demons that will haunt them perhaps for eternity if he doesn’t — and healing their spiritual sicknesses.

We can do everything Paul did and help Christ do what he wants to continue doing: Pray (the Rosary every day, as Our Lady of Lourdes asked), invite people to confession and Mass, where Christ can touch them, and share our own experience of the faith, as Paul did.

So the superhero question for us isn’t what would you do, but: “What do you do with your ability to save people who desperately need it?”