12-February 2009 – Vatican Information
Service

VATICAN CITY, 11 FEB 2009 (VIS) –
In the Vatican Basilica at 4.30 p.m. today, Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and
the seventeenth World Day of the Sick, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan,
president of the Pontifical Council for Healthcare Ministry, celebrated Mass
for the sick, and for pilgrims of UNITALSI (Italian National Union for
Transport of the Sick to Lourdes and International Shrines) and of Opera Romana
Pellegrinaggi.

At the
end of Mass, Benedict XVI arrived in the basilica where he blessed the sick and
made some brief remarks.

"This
Day invites us to make sick people more intensely aware of the spiritual
closeness of the Church", said the Pope, because the Church "is the
family of God in the world, within which no-one must suffer for lack of what
they need. At the same time, today we have the opportunity to reflect on the
experience of sickness and pain, and more generally on the meaning of life
which must be lived to the full, even in suffering".

Recalling
then how this year’s World Day is dedicated to sick children, the Holy Father
asked: "If we remain speechless before the suffering of adults, what can
we say when sickness strikes a young and innocent child? How can we, even in
such difficult situations, see the merciful love of God, Who never abandons His
children at their time of trial?"

He went
on: "Such questions are frequent and sometimes disquieting, and the truth
is that on a merely human level they do not find adequate answers, because the
significance of suffering, sickness and death remains unfathomable to our
minds. However, the light of faith comes to our aid.

"The
Word of God", he added, "reveals to us that these evils are also
mysteriously ’embraced’ by the design of salvation. Faith helps us to uphold
the belief that human life is beautiful and worthy to be lived to the full,
even when undermined by sickness.

"God
created man for happiness and for life, while sickness and death came into the
world as a consequence of sin", the Pope explained. "But the Lord has
not left us to ourselves. He, the Father of life, is doctor par excellence to
man and never ceases His loving attentions to humanity".

"We
are achieving an ever greater awareness of the fact that the life of man is not
a disposable product, but a precious casket to keep and safeguard with all
possible care, from beginning to final and natural conclusion. Life is a
mystery which, of itself, calls for responsibility, love, patience and charity
on the part of each and every individual. Even more so, then, it is necessary
to surround the sick and suffering with care and respect. This is not always
easy, but we know where we can draw the courage and patience to face the
vicissitudes of earthly life, in particular sickness and suffering of all
kinds".

"For
we Christians", he concluded, "the reply to the enigma of suffering
and death is in Christ. … It is in the ‘school’ of the Eucharistic Christ
that we are able to love life always and to accept our apparent impotence in
the face of sickness and death".

"May the Light that comes from on high" he
concluded, "help us to understand and give meaning and value also to the
experience of suffering and death".

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