.- Following the Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima this morning, the Holy Father greeted pilgrims in seven different languages and delivered a special message of encouragement and hope to all who are ill. In offering their suffering to Jesus, he called them to find “interior peace and even spiritual joy.”
The Holy Father’s words came after Mass and just before he processed through the crowd with the Most Holy Sacrament.
Addressing the “dear brothers and sisters who are sick,” he said that through Christ’s Passion “in all human suffering we are joined by one who experiences and carries that suffering with us; hence consolation is present in all suffering, the consolation of God’s compassionate love – and so the star of hope rises.”
He added that it is through hope that one can "leave behind the quicksand of illness and death and stand on the firm rock of divine love.
"In other words, you can overcome the feeling of the uselessness of suffering which consumes a person from within and makes him feel a burden to those around him when, in reality, suffering which is lived with Jesus assists in the salvation of your brethren.”
This is possible through the divine power that comes in the midst of human weakness, he explained.
This the “paradox of the Gospel,” the Pope continued, in which Jesus preferred to say, “take up your cross and follow me” instead of explaining why suffering exists.
In this way, “as you gradually embrace your crosses,” uniting yourselves spiritually to His, “the salvific meaning of suffering will be revealed to you,” Pope Benedict told them.
“In suffering, you will discover an interior peace and even spiritual joy.”
The Pope then called for the sick to present their suffering to Christ in the Eucharist, entrusting “every setback and pain” to Him “so that they become ... a means of redemption for the whole world.”
At the conclusion of the Eucharistic celebration, the Holy Father visited the tombs of the shepherd-children, located within the basilica.
Later, he returned to the House of Our Lady of Mount Carmel where he met with the bishops of Portugal for lunch.