5 February 2021


These are the Hands

- Fr Francis Kemsley

I thought last year would be remembered for Brexit but how wrong I was as it was dominated of news of COVID-19.    As a Carmelite I have reflected upon Mary.  She treasured in her heart what was asked of her.  She stood silently at the foot of the cross.  Her presence is an inspiration for all mothers and others who have suffered the loss of their love one.  The intercession of Mary has long been sought in times of sickness and plague.  Many of you will be aware that the Shrine Our Lady of Rue du Bac and the devotion of the Miraculous Medal had its origins in Paris during the plague of 1830.  

The Shrine of Saint Jude is still closed, and many of you have not been able to attend mass or go to their local church.  Despite, self-isolation and social distancing, we have discovered new and creative ways of ‘being together’ and becoming the Body of Christ while complying with Government and Church directives.   Though there is great pain not being able to celebrate publicly the sacraments. It is good that we can be together each week virtually.

The Carmelites continue to pray for all our pilgrims.  Devotion to Saint Jude reminds us that God has the last word and Saint Jude reminds us that in times of darkness, God is there to lead us to the light that is God.  Though you are not able to come to the Shrine at this time you are with us in spirit. 

We remember all those who have asked for our prayers, those who bring hope and comfort during these difficult and painful times.  The NHS and all key workers are very much in our thoughts and prayers.  I know many of you have been personally affected by the virus through sickness and the sad death of loved ones.

I was touched by a poem that was written to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the National Health Service in 2018 by Michael Rosen, who suffered from COVID-19, called “These are the Hands”.  It reminded me of the prayer of the great Carmelite Doctor, Saint Teresa of Avila.  I would like to share the first and last stanzas of the poem:

These are the Hands 
That touch us first
Feel your head
And make your bed.

And these are the hands 
That shop the leaks
Empty the pan
Wipe the pipes 
Carry the can Clamp the veins
Make the cast
Log the dose
And touch us last.


Let us pray...

Oh ever immaculate Virgin, Mother of Mercy, Health of the Sick, Refuge of Sinners, Comfortess of the Afflicted, you know my wants, my troubles, my sufferings. Look upon me with mercy. When you appeared in the grotto of Lourdes, you made it a privileged sanctuary where you dispense your favors, and where many sufferers have obtained the cure of their infirmities, both spiritual and corporal. I come, therefore, with unbounded confidence to implore your maternal intercession. My loving Mother, obtain my request. I will try to imitate your virtues so that I may one day share your company and bless you in eternity. Amen.