(11 Feb 09 -RV)“For Christians the answer to the enigma of suffering of death is found
in Christ”. That was the message delivered moments ago by Pope Benedict XVI to thousands
of men, women and children, able-bodied and ill, who gathered together to mark the
feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and World Day for the Sick with a special mass, here
in St Peter’s Basilica.
This evening’s mass was celebrated by Cardinal
Javier Lozano Barragán, President of the Vatican’s Council for pastoral healthcare.
Following Communion, Pope Benedict XVI joined the congregation and spoke to them about
his message for the World Day for the Sick which this year focused on the suffering
Pope Benedict said : “This day invites us all to impress upon
all those who are ill and suffering the spiritual closeness of the Church”. He also
said that today gives us a special opportunity to reflect on the experience of illness
and pain and on the meaning of life which must, he added, be fully realised even
when a person is suffering, even though this is often difficult for us to fully comprehend.
Benedict continued that “God has not abandoned us….He is the God of life and mankind’s
best doctor who ceaselessly cares for those who suffer”.
“We are increasingly
aware” he said “that life is not a disposable good, instead it is a precious treasure
that must be cared for and safeguarded, from its very beginning until its natural
end”. “Life is a mystery that demands responsibility, love, patience, charity
from us all”, added Pope Benedict. “It is even more important, therefore, to surround
the ill and suffering with care and respect”. “This is not always easy” acknowledged
that Pope “but we know where we can draw our courage and patience from to face the
trials of our earthly existence. Faith helps us to maintain that human life is beautiful
and worthy of being fully lived even when it is weakened by illness”. For Christians
he concluded, "Christ is the answer to the enigma of suffering and death”.