Preparations are in progress to accommodate an anticipated high turnout for the second annual archdiocesan World Day of the Sick Mass, to be hosted by the Order of Malta at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels Feb. 9, 10 a.m.Archbishop José Gomez will preside at the concelebrated Mass, which will include an anointing for the sick. Last year’s inaugural event at the Cathedral drew more than 2,000 attendees from throughout the archdiocese.“We had a larger turnout than we thought we would, so we’re planning for that and more this year,” said Joe Sanders, the Order’s secretary and Mass co-chair. Held locally on the closest Saturday to the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes (Feb. 11), the World Day of the Sick is celebrated worldwide.As Pope John Paul II wrote in his letter for the Institution of the World Day of the Sick on May 13, 1992, this day represents for the sick, for health care workers, for the faithful and for all people of goodwill “a privileged time of prayer, of sharing, of offering one’s sufferings for the good of the Church, and a call for all to recognize in the features of their suffering brothers and sisters the Holy Face of Christ, who, by suffering, dying and rising has brought about the salvation of mankind.”“Last year’s World Day of the Sick Mass was very special with a good number of Catholic high school students in their uniforms to greet and brighten everyone’s day,” in addition to the Knights and Dames of Malta assisting people, noted Sanders. The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta, often known today as the Order of Malta, is a lay religious order of the Roman Catholic Church dating back to the middle of the eleventh century. Local members of the Order belong to the Western Association, U.S.A., which has chapters in Los Angeles, Orange County, Phoenix, San Francisco and Seattle.The Order of Malta’s Knights and Dames in the Los Angeles chapter perform hospitaller (care for the poor and sick) projects at several locations, including the St. Francis Center in downtown L.A., Mary Health of the Sick in Newbury Park, Santa Teresita in Duarte, and at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels’ Outreach Center, among others. Members also contribute donations to the Order of Malta Free Clinic adjacent to the St. Vincent Medical Center west of downtown L.A. and many local Knights and Dames accompany 50 sick people on a pilgrimage to Lourdes each May.Bitsy Hotaling, Dame of Malta since 1996 and president of the chapter in Los Angeles, said that those who attended the World Day of the Sick last year seemed very happy that the opportunity was available to them to be part of the special event.“It touches so many lives. There are so many people out there who need and want” something like this Mass, noted Hotaling, whose husband, Dick, has been a Knight in the Order of Malta since 1994. Both of them have traveled annually to Lourdes helping to accompany sick pilgrims for over 15 years — except for the year they missed to attend their child’s wedding.“A lot of ‘miracles of the mind’” take place at Lourdes among the sick who travel there, noted Bitsy. “There’s definitely a change in their whole outlook when they go home.”Many local members of the Order who traveled to Lourdes last year brought back holy water, which will be distributed at the end of the World Day of the Sick Mass. Last year’s 500 bottles of Lourdes water were not enough for the demand, so this year, volunteers filled 3,200 little bottles of Lourdes water to distribute.“We’re expecting a larger crowd this year,” said Bitsy. “I think it’s going to be an uplifting day.”The Rite of Anointing, which will be administered following Archbishop Gomez’ homily, is no longer restricted to those who are dying or who are in danger of death. According to the anointing catechesis, people falling into one of the following categories may receive the sacrament: those suffering a serious (chronic or terminal) physical or mental illness; those anticipating serious surgery; the elderly.Drivers may take advantage of curb-side drop-off of passengers at the Cathedral with assistance provided by the Knights and Dames of Malta. Parking is available at the Cathedral for $5. There will be plenty of accommodations inside the Cathedral for those in wheelchairs.On Feb. 15, there will be a Mass at the Cathedral celebrating the Order of Malta’s 900th anniversary. The event will include a ribbon-cutting ceremony of an exhibition of photographic images of the story of the Order, plus a display of a copy of a bowl owned by the Order dating back to 1113. Two historians from Minnesota will be present to lecture on the exhibition.For more information about the Feb. 9 World Day of the Sick Mass, contact Joe Sanders: [email protected]. To learn more about the Feb. 15 Mass celebrating the Order of Malta’s 900th anniversary, contact [email protected]. {gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2013/0201/sick/{/gallery}