Despite evident signs of pain and weakness, Pope John Paul II delivered from Lourdes a powerful call to defend life from the moment of conception to its natural end.
Before a crowd of more than 250,000 pilgrims, including many sick, the Pontiff said that “with special affection I greet the sick and all who have come to this holy place to seek consolation and hope. May the Blessed Virgin enable you to sense her presence and give comfort to your hearts!”
At one point during the Mass, the Pope said in Polish “pomorzie mi” –“Help me,”- as he gestured to aide Monsignor Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki for a glass of water.
Nevertheless, after a short while, he whispered again in Polish “musze siconczyc” -“I must continue to the end”.-
The crowd erupted into applause, many moved to tears at his refusal to yield to the pain.
Referring to the Gospel, the Pope said that “what strikes us about Mary is above all her loving concern for her elderly relative. Hers is a practical love, one which is not limited to words of understanding but is deeply and personally involved in giving help.”
“The Magnificat –he added- is followed by silence: nothing is said to us about the three months that Mary stayed with her kinswoman Elizabeth. Yet perhaps we are told the most important thing: that goodness works quietly, the power of love is expressed in the unassuming quietness of daily service.”
“Dear brothers and sisters! –the Pope continued- From this grotto of Massabielle the Blessed Virgin speaks to us too, the Christians of the third millennium. Let us listen to her!”
John Paul said the Virgin call women, “in our own time, tempted as it is by materialism and secularism”, “to be in today’s society a witness of those essential values which are seen only with the eyes of the heart.”
“I appeal urgently to all of you, dear brother and sisters, to do everything in your power to ensure that life, each and every life, will be respected from conception to its natural end. Life is a sacred gift, and no one can presume to be its master,” he explained.
Finally, the Pope said that Our Lady of Lourdes “has a message for everyone”: “Be men and women of freedom! But remember: human freedom is a freedom wounded by sin. It is a freedom which itself needs to be set free. Christ is its liberator”.
Read the Pope’s homily at: