The Holy Father reiterated themes from his weekly Angelus message, encouraging the pilgrims to offer their sufferings to the Father and to remember that Christ and the Christian community are with them.
A large majority of the Mass’s attendees came from UNITALSI (Italian National Union for Transport of the Sick to Lourdes and International Shrines) and the Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi to celebrate the theme of this year’s World Day, the theme of which was, “Pastoral and spiritual attention to the incurably ill.”
On a day when the Church also celebrates the first apparitions at Lourdes, France, a place where many miraculous cures have been attributed to the prayers of the Mother of God, the Pontiff reminded the crowd that, “Mary, who with her faith accompanied her Son even to the foot of the cross, she who was associated by mysterious design with the sufferings of Christ, never tires of exhorting us to live and to share with serene trust the experience of pain and illness, offering it faithfully to the Father and thus completing what is lacking in our flesh for the afflictions of Christ."
Going on to refer specifically to the seriously ill, the Holy Father called for them to be made aware "of the material and spiritual closeness of the entire Christian community. It is important not to leave them abandoned and alone as they find themselves facing such a delicate moment in their lives." In this context, Pope Benedict praised the work of doctors, nurses, healthcare workers, volunteers, religious and priests, "who dedicate all their energy to the sick, concerned, like the Good Samaritan, not for their social status, the color of their skin or their religious belief, but only for their needs. In the face of each human being, and even more so if tried and disfigured by illness, shines forth the face of Christ."
In the grotto of Massabielle, at Lourdes, "human suffering and hope, fear and trust, come together,” the Pope continued. “How many pilgrims, comforted by the gaze of the Mother, find in Lourdes the strength to put the will of God into effect more easily, even at the cost of sacrifice and pain.”
“May no one, especially people undergoing harsh suffering, ever feel alone and abandoned,” Pope Benedict concluded.