Pope's Message for 2011
World Day of the Sick
"The Cross Is God's 'Yes' to Mankind"
VATICAN CITY, DEC. 19, 2010 - Here is a translation of Benedict XVI's
message for the 19th World Day of the Sick, which will be observed Feb. 11,
on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. The Vatican press office published the
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Dear brothers and sisters!
Every year, on the occasion of the memorial of the Blessed Virgin of
Lourdes, which is celebrated on Feb. 11, the Church proposes the World Day
of the Sick. This circumstance becomes, as the venerable John Paul II
desired, the propitious occasion to reflect on the mystery of suffering and,
above all, to make our communities and civil society more sensitive to sick
brothers and sisters. If every man is our brother, much more are the weak,
the suffering and those needful of care, and they must be at the center of
our attention, so that none of them feel forgotten or marginalized; in fact,
"the true measure of humanity is essentially determined in relationship to
suffering and to the sufferer. This holds true both for the individual and
for society. A society unable to accept its suffering members and incapable
of helping to share their suffering and to bear it inwardly through
'com-passion' is a cruel and inhuman society" ("Spe Salvi," No. 38). May the
initiatives that individual dioceses promote on the occasion of this day be
a stimulus to make care for the suffering more and more effective, also in
view of the solemn celebration that will take place at the Marian shrine in
Altötting in Germany.
1. I still have in my heart the moment when, during the course of the
pastoral visit to Turin, I was able to pause in reflection and prayer before
the sacred Shroud, before that suffering countenance, that invites us to
meditate on him who took upon himself man's suffering of every age and
place, even our sufferings, our difficulties, our sins. How many faithful
over the course of history have passed before that sepulchral winding sheet,
which covered the body of a crucified man, which in everything corresponds
to what the Gospels transmit about the passion and death of Jesus!
Contemplating him is an invitation to reflect on what St. Peter writes: "By
his wounds we have been healed" (1 Peter 2:24).
The Son of God has suffered, he has died, but he is risen, it is precisely
because of this that those wounds become the sign of our redemption, of our
forgiveness and reconciliation with the Father; they become, however, a test
for the faith of the disciples and our faith: every time that the Lord
speaks of his passion and death, they do not understand, they reject it,
they oppose it. For them as for us, suffering is always charged with
mystery, difficult to accept and bear. Because of the events that had
occurred in Jerusalem in those days the two disciples of Emmaus walk along
sadly, and only when the Risen One walks along the road with them do they
open up to a new vision (cf. Luke 24:13-31). Even the apostle Thomas
manifests the difficulty of believing in the redemptive way of suffering:
"Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the
nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe" (John 20:25).
But before Christ who shows his wounds, his response is transformed into a
moving profession of faith: "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28). What was at
first an insurmountable obstacle, because it was the sign of Jesus’ apparent
failure, becomes, in the encounter with the Risen One, the proof of
victorious love: "Only a God who loves us to the extent of taking upon
himself our wounds and our pain, especially innocent suffering, is worthy of
faith" (Urbi et Orbi Message, Easter 2007).
2. Dear sick and suffering ones, it is precisely through the sufferings of
the Christ that we are able to see, with eyes of hope, all the maladies that
afflict humanity. Rising, the Lord did not take away suffering and evil from
the world, but he defeated them at their root. To the arrogance of Evil he
opposed the omnipotence of his Love. He has shown us, then, that the way of
peace and joy is Love: "As I have loved you, so must you love one another"
(John 13:34). Christ, victor over death, is alive and in our midst. And
while with St. Thomas we also say: "My Lord and my God!" we follow our Lord
in readiness to spend our life for our brothers (cf. 1 John 3:16), becoming
messengers of a joy that does not fear pain, the joy of the Resurrection.
St. Bernard said: "God cannot suffer, but he can suffer with." God, who is
Truth and Love in person, wanted to suffer for us and with us; he became man
to suffer with man, in a real way, in flesh and blood. Into every human
suffering, then, there has entered One who shares suffering and endurance;
he offers consolation in all suffering, the consolation of the participating
love of God, which makes the star of hope rise (cf. "Spe salvi," 39).
I repeat this message to you, dear brothers and sisters, so that you become
witnesses through your suffering, your life and your faith.
3. Looking forward to the meeting in Madrid, in August 2011, for World
Youth Day, I would also like to address a special thought to young people,
especially those who live the experience of sickness. Often, the Passion and
the Cross of Jesus cause fear, because they seem to be the negation of life.
In reality, it is exactly the contrary! The cross is God’s "yes" to mankind,
the highest and most intense expression of his love and the source from
which flows eternal life. From the pierced heart of Jesus this divine life
flows. He alone is capable of liberating the world from evil and make his
kingdom of justice, of peace and of love grow, the kingdom to which we all
aspire (cf. Message for World Youth Day 2011, 3).
Dear young people, learn to "see" and to "meet" Jesus in the Eucharist,
where he is present for us in a real way, to the point of making himself
food for the journey, but know how to recognize and serve him also in those
brothers who are poor, sick, suffering and in difficulty, who have need of
your help (cf. ibid., 4). To all of you young people, sick and healthy, I
repeat the invitation to create bridges of love and solidarity, so that no
one feels alone, but near to God and part of the great family of his
children (cf. General Audience, November 15, 2006).
4. Contemplating Jesus’ wounds our gaze turns to his most sacred Heart in
which God’s love manifests itself in the supreme way. The Sacred Heart is
Christ crucified, with his side opened by the lance, from which blood and
water flow (cf. John 19:34), "symbol of the sacraments of the Church, that
all men, drawn to the Heart of the Savior, might drink from the perennial
font of salvation" (Roman Missal, Preface for the Solemnity of the Most
Sacred Heart of Jesus). Especially you, dear sick ones, should feel the
nearness of this Heart full of love and draw from this font with faith and
with joy, praying: "Water from the side of Christ, wash me. Passion of
Christ, strengthen me. O good Jesus, hear me. In your wounds, hide me"
(Prayer of St. Ignatius of Loyola).
5. At the end of this message of mine for the next World Day of the Sick, I
would like to express my affection to each and every one, feeling myself a
participant in the sufferings and hopes that you have daily in union with
Christ crucified and risen, that he give you peace and healing of the heart.
May the Virgin Mary keep watch over you together with him. We invoke her
confidently under the titles Health of the Infirm and Consoler of the
Suffering. At the foot of the cross there is realized through her Simeon’s
prophecy: her Mother’s heart is pierced (cf. Luke 2:35). From the abyss of
her pain, a participation in her Son’s, Mary is made capable of accepting
her new mission: to become the Mother of Christ in his members. In the hour
of the cross Jesus presents her to all of his disciples: "Behold your son"
(cf. John 19:26-27). The maternal compassion for the Son becomes maternal
compassion for each one of us in our daily sufferings (cf. Homily at
Lourdes, Sept. 15, 2008).
Dear brothers and sisters, for this World Day of the Sick, I also invite
the political authorities to invest more and more in health systems that are
a help and a support for the suffering, above all the poorest and the most
needy, and, addressing all the dioceses, I offer an affectionate to the
bishops, the priests, consecrated persons, seminarians, health workers,
volunteers and all of those who dedicate themselves with love to care for
and sooth the wounds of every sick brother or sister, in hospitals or
nursing homes, in families: in the faces of the sick know how to see always
the face of faces -- that of Christ.
I assure everyone a remembrance in my prayer, while I impart to each of you
a special apostolic blessing.
From the Vatican, Nov. 21, 2010, Feast of Christ the King of the Universe
BENEDICTUS PP XVI
Pope's Message for 2009 World Day of the
"The Witness of Charity Is Part of the Very Life of Every Christian Community"
VATICAN CITY, FEB. 15, 2009 - Here is a Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's
message for the 17th World Day of the Sick, which was celebrated Wednesday on
the diocesan level.
* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The World Day of the Sick, which will be celebrated next 11 February, the
liturgical Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes, will see the diocesan communities
gathering with their Bishops at prayer meetings in order to reflect and decide
on initiatives of sensitization concerning the reality of suffering.
The Pauline Year that we are celebrating is a favorable opportunity to pause and
meditate with the Apostle Paul on the fact that "as we share abundantly in
Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too" (2
The spiritual connection with Lourdes also calls to mind the motherly concern of
the Mother of Jesus for the brethren of her Son, "who still journey on earth
surrounded by dangers and difficulties, until they are led into their blessed
home" ("Lumen Gentium," No. 62).
This year our attention focuses in particular on children, the weakest and most
defenseless creatures, and on those of them who are sick and suffering. There
are tiny human beings who bear in their bodies the consequences of
incapacitating diseases, and others who are fighting illnesses that are still
incurable today, despite the progress of medicine and the assistance of
qualified researchers and health-care professionals.
There are children injured in body and in mind, subsequent to conflicts and
wars, and other innocent victims of the insensate hatred of adults. There are
"street" children, who are deprived of the warmth of a family and left to
themselves, and minors defiled by degenerate people who violate their innocence,
causing them psychological damage that will mark them for the rest of their
Then we cannot forget the incalculable number of minors who die of thirst,
hunger and the lack of medical help, as well as the small exiles and refugees
who flee from their countries together with their parents in search of a better
life. A silent cry of pain rises from all these children which questions our
consciences as human beings and believers.
The Christian community, which cannot remain indifferent to such tragic
situations, feels the impelling duty to intervene. Indeed, as I wrote in the
Encyclical "Deus Caritas Est," the Church "is God's family in the world. In this
family no one ought to go without the necessities of life" (No. 25,b).
I therefore hope that the World Day of the Sick will offer the parish and
diocesan communities an opportunity to be ever more aware that they are the
"family of God" and will encourage them to make the love of the Lord, who asks
that "within the ecclesial family no member should suffer through being in
need", visible in villages, neighborhoods and cities (ibid).
The witness of charity is part of the very life of every Christian community.
And from the outset the Church has expressed the Gospel principles in practical
gestures, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles.
Today, given the changed conditions of health-care assistance, people are
feeling the need for closer collaboration between health-care professionals who
work in the various health-care institutions and the ecclesial communities
present in the territory. In this perspective the value of an institution linked
to the Holy See such as the Bambino Gesù Pediatric Hospital this year
celebrating its 140th anniversary is confirmed in every way.
But this is not all. Since the sick child belongs to a family that frequently
shares in his or her suffering with serious hardship and difficulties, Christian
communities cannot but also feel duty-bound to help families afflicted by the
illness of a son or daughter.
After the example of the "Good Samaritan", it is necessary to bend over the
people so harshly tried and offer them the support of their concrete solidarity.
In this way the acceptance and sharing of suffering is expressed in the
practical support of sick children's families, creating in them an atmosphere of
serenity and hope and making them feel that they are in the midst of a larger
family of brothers and sisters in Christ.
Jesus' compassion for the widow of Nain (cf. Luke 7:12-17) and for Jairus'
supplication (cf. Luke 8:41-56) constitute, among others, useful reference
points for learning to share in the moments of physical and moral suffering of
the many sorely tried families.
All this implies disinterested and generous love, a reflection and a sign of the
merciful love of God who never abandons his children in trial but always
provides them anew with wonderful resources of heart and mind to equip them to
face life's difficulties adequately.
The daily devotion and continuous commitment to serving sick children is an
eloquent testimony of love for human life, particularly for the life of those
who are weak and dependant on others in all things and for all things.
In fact, it is necessary to assert vigorously the absolute and supreme dignity
of every human life. The teaching that the Church ceaselessly proclaims does not
change with the passing of time: Human life is beautiful and should be lived to
the full, even when it is weak and enveloped in the mystery of suffering.
We must turn our gaze to the Crucified Jesus: in dying on the Cross he wished to
share in the suffering of all humanity. We may discern in his suffering for love
a supreme sharing in the plight of little ones who are ill and of their parents.
My venerable Predecessor John Paul II who offered a shining example of patient
acceptance of suffering, particularly towards the end of his life, wrote: "On
this Cross is the "Redeemer of man', the Man of Sorrows, who has taken upon
himself the physical and moral sufferings of the people of all times, so that in
love they may find the salvific meaning of their sorrow and valid answers to all
of their questions" ("Salvifici Doloris," No. 31).
I would like here to express my appreciation and encouragement to the
international and national organizations which care for sick children,
especially in the poor countries, and which with generosity and abnegation make
their contribution to assuring them adequate and loving care.
At the same time, I address a heartfelt appeal to the leaders of nations that
they will strengthen the laws and provisions for sick children and their
families. For her part, the Church always, but especially when a child's life is
at stake is prepared to offer cordial collaboration with the intention of
transforming the whole human civilization into a "civilization of love" ("Salvifici
Doloris," No. 30).
To conclude, I would like to express my spiritual closeness to all of you, dear
brothers and sisters who are suffering from an illness. I address an
affectionate greeting to all those who assist you: the Bishops, priests,
consecrated people, health-care workers, volunteers and all who devote
themselves lovingly to treating and alleviating the sufferings of those who are
grappling with illness.
Here is a special greeting for you, dear sick and suffering children: the Pope
embraces you with fatherly affection together with your parents and relatives,
and assures you of his special remembrance in prayer, as he asks you to trust in
the maternal help of the Immaculate Virgin Mary who last Christmas we once again
contemplated joyfully holding in her arms the Son of God who became a Child. As
I invoke upon you and upon every sick person the motherly protection of the
Blessed Virgin, Health of the Sick, I cordially impart to all a special
From the Vatican, 2 February 2009
for World Day of the Sick
"Mary Suffers With Those Who Are in Affliction"
VATICAN CITY, JAN. 20, 2008 - Here is a nonofficial Vatican
translation of the Benedict XVI's message for the 16th World Day of the
Sick, which will be celebrate on the diocesan level Feb. 11.
* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
1. On 11 February, the memorial of the Blessed Mary Virgin of Lourdes,
the World Day of the Sick will be celebrated, a propitious occasion to
reflect on the meaning of pain and the Christian duty to take
responsibility for it in whatever situation it arises. This year this
significant day is connected to two important events for the life of
the Church, as one already understands from the theme chosen 'The
Eucharist, Lourdes and Pastoral Care for the Sick': the one hundred and
fiftieth anniversary of the apparitions of the Immaculate Mary at
Lourdes, and the celebration of the International Eucharistic Congress
at Quebec in Canada. In this way, a remarkable opportunity to consider
the close connection that exists between the Mystery of the Eucharist,
the role of Mary in the project of salvation, and the reality of human
pain and suffering, is offered to us.
The hundred and fifty years since the apparitions of Lourdes invite us
to turn our gaze towards the Holy Virgin, whose Immaculate Conception
constitutes the sublime and freely-given gift of God to a woman so that
she could fully adhere to divine designs with a steady and unshakable
faith, despite the tribulations and the sufferings that she would have
to face. For this reason, Mary is a model of total self-abandonment to
the will of God: she received in her heart the eternal Word and she
conceived it in her virginal womb; she trusted to God and, with her
soul pierced by a sword (cf. Lk 2:35), she did not hesitate to share
the passion of her Son, renewing on Calvary at the foot of the Cross
her 'Yes' of the Annunciation. To reflect upon the Immaculate
Conception of Mary is thus to allow oneself to be attracted by the
'Yes' which joined her wonderfully to the mission of Christ, the
redeemer of humanity; it is to allow oneself to be taken and led by her
hand to pronounce in one's turn 'fiat' to the will of God, with all
one's existence interwoven with joys and sadness, hopes and
disappointments, in the awareness that tribulations, pain and suffering
make rich the meaning of our pilgrimage on the earth.
2. One cannot contemplate Mary without being attracted by Christ and
one cannot look at Christ without immediately perceiving the presence
of Mary. There is an indissoluble link between the Mother and the Son,
generated in her womb by work of the Holy Spirit, and this link we
perceive, in a mysterious way, in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, as
the Fathers of the Church and theologians pointed out from the early
centuries onwards. 'The flesh born of Mary, coming from the Holy
Spirit, is bread descended from heaven', observed St. Hilary of
Poitiers. In the "Bergomensium Sacramentary" of the ninth century we
read: 'Her womb made flower a fruit, a bread that has filled us with an
angelic gift. Mary restored to salvation what Eve had destroyed by her
sin'. And St. Pier Damiani observed: 'That body that the most blessed
Virgin generated, nourished in her womb with maternal care, that body I
say, without doubt and no other, we now receive from the sacred altar,
and we drink its blood as a sacrament of our redemption. This is what
the Catholic faith believes, this the holy Church faithfully teaches'.
The link of the Holy Virgin with the Son, the sacrificed Lamb who takes
away the sins of the world, is extended to the Church, the mystic Body
of Christ. Mary, observes the Servant of God John Paul II, is a 'woman
of the Eucharist' in her whole life, as a result of which the Church,
seeing Mary as her model, 'is also called to imitate her in her
relationship with this most holy mystery' (Encyclical "Ecclesia de
Eucharistia," n. 53). In this perspective one understands even further
why in Lourdes the cult of the Blessed Virgin Mary is joined to a
strong and constant reference to the Eucharist with daily Celebrations
of the Eucharist, with adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament, and with
the blessing of the sick, which constitutes one of the strongest
moments of the visit of pilgrims to the grotto of Massabielles.
The presence of many sick pilgrims in Lourdes, and of the volunteers
who accompany them, helps us to reflect on the maternal and tender care
that the Virgin expresses towards human pain and suffering. Associated
with the Sacrifice of Christ, Mary, Mater Dolorosa, who at the foot of
the Cross suffers with her divine Son, is felt to be especially near by
the Christian community, which gathers around its suffering members,
who bear the signs of the passion of the Lord. Mary suffers with those
who are in affliction, with them she hopes, and she is their comfort,
supporting them with her maternal help. And is it not perhaps true that
the spiritual experience of very many sick people leads us to
understand increasingly that 'the Divine Redeemer wishes to penetrate
the soul of every sufferer through the heart of his holy Mother, the
first and the most exalted of all the redeemed'? (John Paul II,
Apostolic Letter, "Salvifici doloris," n. 26).
3. If Lourdes leads us to reflect upon the maternal love of the
Immaculate Virgin for her sick and suffering children, the next
International Eucharistic Congress will be an opportunity to worship
Jesus Christ present in the Sacrament of the altar, to entrust
ourselves to him as Hope that does not disappoint, to receive him as
that medicine of immortality which heals the body and the spirit. Jesus
Christ redeemed the world through his suffering, his death and his
resurrection, and he wanted to remain with us as the 'bread of life' on
our earthly pilgrimage. 'The Eucharist, Gift of God for the Life of the
World': this is the theme of the Eucharistic Congress and it emphasises
how the Eucharist is the gift that the Father makes to the world of His
only Son, incarnated and crucified. It is he who gathers us around the
Eucharistic table, provoking in his disciples loving care for the
suffering and the sick, in whom the Christian community recognises the
face of its Lord. As I pointed out in the Post-Synodal Exhortation
"Sacramentum caritatis," 'Our communities, when they celebrate the
Eucharist, must become ever more conscious that the sacrifice of Christ
is for all, and that the Eucharist thus compels all who believe in him
to become "bread that is broken" for others' (n. 88). We are thus
encouraged to commit ourselves in the first person to helping our
brethren, especially those in difficulty, because the vocation of every
Christian is truly that of being, together with Jesus, bread that is
broken for the life of the world.
4. It thus appears clear that it is specifically from the Eucharist
that pastoral care in health must draw the necessary spiritual strength
to come effectively to man's aid and to help him to understand the
salvific value of his own suffering. As the Servant of God John Paul II
was to write in the already quoted Apostolic Letter Salvifici doloris,
the Church sees in her suffering brothers and sisters as it were a
multiple subject of the supernatural power of Christ (cf. n. 27).
Mysteriously united to Christ, the man who suffers with love and meek
self-abandonment to the will of God becomes a living offering for the
salvation of the world.
My beloved Predecessor also stated that 'The more a person is
threatened by sin, the heavier the structures of sin which today's
world brings with it, the greater is the eloquence which human
suffering possesses in itself. And the more the Church feels the need
to have recourse to the value of human sufferings for the salvation of
the world' (ibidem). If, therefore, at Quebec the mystery of the
Eucharist, the gift of God for the life of the world, is contemplated
during the World Day of the Sick in an ideal spiritual parallelism, not
only will the actual participation of human suffering in the salvific
work of God be celebrated, but the valuable fruits promised to those
who believe can in a certain sense be enjoyed. Thus pain, received with
faith, becomes the door by which to enter the mystery of the redemptive
suffering of Jesus and to reach with him the peace and the happiness of
5. While I extend my cordial greetings to all sick people and to all
those who take care of them in various ways, I invite the diocesan and
parish communities to celebrate the next World Day of the Sick by
appreciating to the full the happy coinciding of the one hundred and
fiftieth anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady at Lourdes with the
International Eucharistic Congress. May it be an occasion to emphasise
the importance of the Holy Mass, of the Adoration of the Eucharist and
of the cult of the Eucharist, so that chapels in our health-care
centres become a beating heart in which Jesus offers himself
unceasingly to the Father for the life of humanity! The distribution of
the Eucharist to the sick as well, done with decorum and in a spirit of
prayer, is true comfort for those who suffer, afflicted by all forms of
May the next World Day of the Sick be, in addition, a propitious
circumstance to invoke in a special way the maternal protection of Mary
over those who are weighed down by illness; health-care workers; and
workers in pastoral care in health! I think in particular of priests
involved in this field, women and men religious, volunteers and all
those who with active dedication are concerned to serve, in body and
soul, the sick and those in need. I entrust all to Mary, the Mother of
God and our Mother, the Immaculate Conception. May she help everyone in
testifying that the only valid response to human pain and suffering is
Christ, who in resurrecting defeated death and gave us the life that
knows no end. With these feelings, from my heart I impart to everyone
my special Apostolic Blessing.
From the Vatican, 11 January 2008
BENEDICTUS PP. XVI
Papal Homily at a Roman Hospital
"In Every Sick Person, May You Be Able to Recognize Christ Himself"
VATICAN CITY, DEC. 16, 2007- Here is a Vatican translation of Benedict
XVI's Dec. 2 homily during a pastoral visit to St. John the Baptist
Hospital in Rome, which is sponsored by the Sovereign Military Order of
* * *
PASTORAL VISIT OF THE HOLY FATHER BENEDICT XVI
TO "ST JOHN THE BAPTIST" ROMAN HOSPITAL
OF THE SOVEREIGN MILITARY HOSPITALLER ORDER OF MALTA
HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
First Sunday of Advent, 2 December 2007
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
"Let us go to the house of the Lord!". These words that we repeated in
the response of the Responsorial Psalm clearly express the feelings
that fill our hearts today, the First Sunday of Advent. The reason why
we can go ahead joyfully, as the Apostle Paul has exhorted us, lies in
the fact that our salvation is now at hand. The Lord is coming! With
this knowledge we set out on the journey of Advent, preparing ourselves
to celebrate with faith the extraordinary event of the Lord's birth. In
the coming weeks, day after day the liturgy will offer for our
reflection Old Testament texts that recall the lively, constant desire
that kept alive in the Jewish people the expectation of the Messiah's
coming. Watchful in prayer, let us too seek to prepare our hearts to
receive the Lord, who will come to show us his mercy and give us his
Precisely during this time of waiting, Advent is a season of hope, and
it is to Christian hope that I wished to dedicate my second Encyclical,
officially presented the day before yesterday; it begins with the words
St Paul addressed to the Christians of Rome: "Spe salvi facti sumus -
in hope we were saved" (Rom 8: 24). In the Encyclical, I write among
other things that "we need the greater and lesser hopes that keep us
going day by day. But these are not enough without the great hope,
which must surpass everything else. This great hope can only be God,
who encompasses the whole of reality and who can bestow upon us what
we, by ourselves, cannot attain" (n. 31). May the certainty that God
alone can be our steadfast hope enliven us all, gathered here this
morning in this house where illness is combated with the support of
solidarity. And I would like to make the most of my Visit to your
hospital, managed by the Association of the Italian Knights of the
Sovereign Military Order of Malta, to present the Encyclical in spirit
to the Christian community of Rome, and especially to those who, like
you, are in direct contact with suffering and illness, for precisely
through suffering like the sick do we have need of hope, the certainty
that God exists and does not abandon us, that he lovingly takes us by
the hand and accompanies us. It is a text I invite you to examine
deeply, to find in it the reasons for this "trustworthy hope, by virtue
of which we can face our present: the present, even if it is arduous"
Dear brothers and sisters, "May the God of hope who fills us with all
joy and peace in faith through the power of the Holy Spirit be with you
all!". With this wish which the priest addresses to the assembly at the
beginning of Holy Mass, I offer you my cordial greeting. I greet first
of all the Cardinal Vicar, Camillo Ruini, and Cardinal Pio Laghi,
Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, the Prelates and
priests pres-ent and the chaplains and Sisters who serve here. I greet
with respect His Most Eminent Highness Fra Andrew Bertie, Prince and
Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, whom I thank for
the sentiments he has expressed on behalf of the management, the
administrative, health-care and nursing staffs and all those who in
their various capacities work in this hospital. I extend my greeting to
the distinguished Authorities, with a special thought for the
Health-care Director as well as the Patients' Representative, whom I
thank for the words they addressed to me at the beginning of the
But my most affectionate greeting is for you, dear sick people, and for
your relatives who share your anxieties and hopes. The Pope is
spiritually close to you and assures you of his daily prayers; he
invites you to find support and comfort in Jesus and never to lose
trust. The Advent liturgy will repeat to us throughout the coming weeks
not to tire of calling on him; it will exhort us to go forth to meet
him, knowing that he himself comes constantly to visit us. In trial and
in sickness, God mysteriously visits us, and if we abandon ourselves to
his will, we can experience the power of his love. Precisely because
they are inhabited by people troubled by suffering, hospitals and
clinics can become privileged places to witness to Christian love,
which nourishes hope and inspires resolutions of fraternal solidarity.
In the Collect we prayed: "O God, inspire in us the determination to
meet with good works your Christ who comes". Yes! Let us open our
hearts to every person, especially if he or she is in difficulty,
because by doing good to those in need we prepare to welcome Jesus,
who, in them, comes to visit us.
Dear brothers and sisters, this is what you seek to do in this
hospital, where everyone's concern focuses on the professional and
loving acceptance of the patients, the preservation of their dignity
and the commitment to improve the quality of their life. Down the
centuries the Church has made herself particularly "close" to the
suffering. Your praiseworthy Sovereign Military Order of Malta has
chosen to share in this spirit: from the very outset it was dedicated
to the assistance of pilgrims in the Holy Land with a
Hospice-Infirmary. While it pursued its aim of the defence of
Christianity, the Sovereign Military Order of Malta spared no effort in
treating the sick, especially the poor and the outcast. This hospital
is also a testimony of this fraternal love. Having come into existence
in the 1970s, it has today become a stronghold with a high standard of
technology and a home of solidarity, where side by side with the
health-care staff numerous volunteers work with generous dedication.
Dear Knights of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, dear doctors,
nurses and all who work here, you are all called to carry out an
important service to the sick and to society, a service that demands
self-denial and a spirit of sacrifice. In every sick person, whoever he
or she may be, may you be able to recognize and serve Christ himself;
make them perceive with your acts and words the signs of his merciful
love. To carry out this "mission" well, endeavour, as St Paul instructs
us in the Second Reading, to "put on the armour of light" (Rom 13: 12),
which consists in the Word of God, the gifts of the Spirit, the grace
of the Sacraments, the theological and cardinal virtues; fight evil and
abandon sin that darkens our life. At the beginning of a new liturgical
year, let us renew our good resolutions of evangelical life. "It is
full time now for you to wake from sleep" (Rom 13: 11), the Apostle
urges; it is time to convert, to throw off the lethargy of sin, to
prepare ourselves confidently to welcome "the Lord who comes". It is
for this reason that Advent is a season of prayer and watchful waiting.
The Gospel passage that has just been proclaimed exhorts us to be
"watchful", which is among other things the key word of the whole of
this liturgical period: "Watch, therefore, for you do not know on what
day your Lord is coming" (Mt 24: 42). Jesus, who came among us at
Christmas and will return in glory at the end of time, does not tire of
visiting us continuously in everyday events. He asks us to be alert to
perceive his presence, his advent, and recommends that we watch and
wait for him since his coming is not programmed or foretold but will be
sudden and unexpected. Only those who are alert are not taken by
surprise. He warns: may it not happen to you as in Noah's day, when men
ate and drank heedlessly and were swept away unprepared by the flood
(cf. Mt 24: 37-38). What does the Lord want to make us understand with
this warning, other than we must not let ourselves be absorbed by
material realities and concerns to the point of being ensnared by them?
We must live in the eyes of the Lord with the conviction that he can
make himself present. If we live in this way, the world will become
"Watch, therefore". Let us listen to Jesus' Gospel invitation and
prepare ourselves to relive with faith the mystery of the Redeemer's
birth, which filled all the world with joy; let us prepare ourselves to
welcome the Lord in his constant coming to us in the events of life, in
joy and in pain, in health and in sickness; let us prepare ourselves to
meet him at his definitive coming. His nearness is always a source of
peace, and if suffering, a legacy of human nature, sometimes becomes
unbearable, with the Saviour's advent "suffering - without ceasing to
be suffering - becomes, despite everything, a hymn of praise" (Spe
Salvi, n. 37). Comforted by these words, let us continue the
Eucharistic Celebration, invoking upon the sick, their relatives and
all who work in this hospital and in the entire Order of the Knights of
Malta the motherly protection of Mary, the Virgin of waiting and hope,
as also of the joy which already exists in this world, because when we
feel the closeness of the living Christ, there the remedy to suffering
and his joy is already present. Amen.
Address on World Day
of the Sick
"It Is Important Not to Leave Them Abandoned"
VATICAN CITY, FEB. 15, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is the
Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday at the
conclusion of the Mass in St. Peter's Basilica on the occasion of the
15th World Day of the Sick.
* * *
15th WORLD DAY OF THE SICK
HOLY MASS FOR THE SICK
ON THE FEAST OF OUR LADY OF LOURDES
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI TO THE SICK AT THE
CONCLUSION OF MASS
Sunday, 11 February 2007
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
It is with great joy that I meet you here in the Vatican
Basilica on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and the annual World Day
of the Sick, at the end of the Eucharistic celebration presided over by
Cardinal Camillo Ruini.
To him, first of all, I address my greeting, which I
extend to all of you present here: to the Archpriest of the Basilica,
Archbishop Angelo Comastri, to the other Bishops, the priests and
Religious. I greet the heads and members of the UNITALSI, who dedicate
themselves to the transportation and care of the sick on pilgrimage and
in other meaningful events.
I greet the heads and pilgrims of the "Opera Romana
Pellegrinaggi" and those who will take part in this 15th
Theological-Pastoral National Convention, both from Italy and abroad. I
further greet the delegation of representatives of "Cammini d'Europa"
But my most cordial greeting is directed to you, dear sick
people, to your families and the volunteers who care for you and
accompany you with love today. Together with all of you I want to unite
myself with those who today take part in the various events of the
World Day of the Sick held in Seoul, South Korea. There, Cardinal
Javier Lozano Barragán, President of the Pontifical Council for
Pastoral Care, presides at the celebrations in my name.
Today is the Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes,
who a little less than 150 years ago appeared to a simple youth, St
Bernadette Soubirous, showing herself as the Immaculate Conception.
Also in that apparition the Blessed Mother has shown
herself as a tender mother to her children, recalling that the little,
the poor are the beloved of God and to them the mystery of the Kingdom
of Heaven is revealed.
Dear friends, Mary, who with her faith accompanied her Son
beneath the Cross, she who by a mysterious plan was associated to the
sufferings of Christ her Son, never tires to exhort us to live and
share with serene trust the experience of sorrow and sickness, offering
it with faith to the Father, thus completing in our flesh what is
lacking in the sufferings of Christ (cf. Col 1:24).
In this regard, I recall the words with which my venerable
Predecessor Paul VI concluded the Apostolic Exhortation "Marialis
Cultus": "Contemplated in the episodes of the Gospels and in the
reality which she already possesses in the City of God, the Blessed
Virgin Mary offers a calm vision and a reassuring word to modern man,
torn as he often is between anguish and hope, defeated by the sense of
his own limitations and assailed by limitless aspirations, troubled in
his mind and divided in his heart, uncertain before the riddle of
death, oppressed by loneliness while yearning for fellowship, a prey to
boredom and disgust. She shows forth the victory of hope over anguish,
of fellowship over solitude, of peace over anxiety, of joy and beauty
over boredom and disgust, of eternal visions over earthly ones, of life
over death" (n. 57).
They are words that shine light on our way, even when the
sense of hope and the certainty of healing seem to vanish; they are
words that I would like to be of special comfort to those who are
struck by grave illnesses and pain.
And it is precisely to these our particularly tried
brothers that today's World Day of the Sick is dedicated with special
attention. We would like them to feel the material and spiritual
closeness of the entire Christian community.
It is important not to leave them abandoned and in
solitude while they try to face a very delicate moment in their life.
Praiseworthy are those who with patience and love place their
professional skills and human warmth at their service.
I think of doctors, nurses, health-care workers,
volunteers, Religious and priests who without sparing themselves stoop
down to them like the Good Samaritan, not considering their social
condition, skin color or religious affiliation, but only their needs.
In the face of every human being, and still more if tried and
disfigured by sickness, shines the Face of Christ, who said: "As you
did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me" (Mt
Dear brothers and sisters, in a short while, this evening,
a meaningful candlelight procession will reawaken the atmosphere that
is created among pilgrims and those devoted to Lourdes. Our thought
goes to the grotto of Massabielle, where human sorrows and hopes, fears
and trust, meet.
How many pilgrims, comforted by the gaze of their Mother,
find at Lourdes the strength to accomplish more easily the will of God
even when it costs renunciation and pain, aware that, as the Apostle
Paul affirms, all works to the good of those who love the Lord (cf. Rom
May the candle that you hold alight in your hands be for
you, dear brothers and sisters, the sign of a sincere desire to walk
with Jesus, refulgence of peace, who shines in the darkness and urges
us in our turn to be light and support for those near to us.
May no one, especially those who find themselves in the
difficult situation of suffering, feel alone and abandoned.
I entrust you all this evening to the Virgin Mary. She,
after having known unspeakable suffering, was assumed into Heaven,
where she awaits us and where we too hope to be able to share one day
the glory of her Divine Son, the joy without end.
With these sentiments I impart my Blessing to all of you
present here and to those dear to you.
Papal Message for World Day of the Sick
February 11, 2007
"The Need for More Palliative Care Centers"
VATICAN CITY, DEC. 13, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is Benedict XVI's
message for the World Day of the Sick, to be observed on Feb. 11, the
principal venue being Seoul, South Korea.
* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
On 11 February 2007, when the Church keeps the liturgical memorial
of Our Lady of Lourdes, the Fifteenth World Day of the Sick will be
celebrated in Seoul, Korea. A number of meetings, conferences, pastoral
gatherings and liturgical celebrations will take place with
representatives of the Church in Korea, health care personnel, the sick
and their families. Once again the Church turns her eyes to those who
suffer and calls attention to the incurably ill, many of whom are dying
from terminal diseases. They are found on every continent, particularly
in places where poverty and hardship cause immense misery and grief.
Conscious of these sufferings, I will be spiritually present at the
World Day of the Sick, united with those meeting to discuss the plight
of the incurably ill in our world and encouraging the efforts of
Christian communities in their witness to the Lord's tenderness and
Sickness inevitably brings with it a moment of crisis and sober
confrontation with one's own personal situation. Advances in the health
sciences often provide the means necessary to meet this challenge, at
least with regard to its physical aspects. Human life, however, has
intrinsic limitations, and sooner or later it ends in death. This is an
experience to which each human being is called, and one for which he or
she must be prepared. Despite the advances of science, a cure cannot be
found for every illness, and thus, in hospitals, hospices and homes
throughout the world we encounter the sufferings of our many brothers
and sisters who are incurably and often terminally ill. In addition,
many millions of people in our world still experience in sanitary
living conditions and lack access to much-needed medical resources,
often of the most basic kind, with the result that the number of human
beings considered "incurable" is greatly increased.
The Church wishes to support the incurably and terminally ill by
calling for just social policies which can help to eliminate the causes
of many diseases and by urging improved care for the dying and those
for whom no medical remedy is available. There is a need to promote
policies which create conditions where human beings can bear even
incurable illnesses and death in a dignified manner. Here it is
necessary to stress once again the need for more palliative care
centers which provide integral care, offering the sick the human
assistance and spiritual accompaniment they need. This is a right
belonging to every human being, one which we must all be committed to
Here I would like to encourage the efforts of those who work daily
to ensure that the incurably and terminally ill, together with their
families, receive adequate and loving care. The Church, following the
example of the Good Samaritan, has always shown particular concern for
the infirm. Through her individual members and institutions, she
continues to stand alongside the suffering and to attend the dying,
striving to preserve their dignity at these significant moments of
human existence. Many such individuals -- health care professionals,
pastoral agents and volunteers -- and institutions throughout the world
are tirelessly serving the sick, in hospitals and in palliative care
units, on city streets, in housing projects and parishes.
I now turn to you, my dear brothers and sisters suffering from
incurable and terminal diseases. I encourage you to contemplate the
sufferings of Christ crucified, and, in union with him, to turn to the
Father with complete trust that all life, and your lives in particular,
are in his hands. Trust that your sufferings, united to those of
Christ, will prove fruitful for the needs of the Church and the world.
I ask the Lord to strengthen your faith in his love, especially during
these trials that you are experiencing. It is my hope that, wherever
you are, you will always find the spiritual encouragement and strength
needed to nourish your faith and bring you closer to the Father of
Life. Through her priests and pastoral workers, the Church wishes to
assist you and stand at your side, helping you in your hour of need,
and thus making present Christ's own loving mercy towards those who
In conclusion, I ask ecclesial communities throughout the world,
and particularly those dedicated to the service of the infirm, to
continue, with the help of Mary, Salus Infirmorum, to bear effective
witness to the loving concern of God our Father. May the Blessed
Virgin, our Mother, comfort those who are ill and sustain all who have
devoted their lives, as Good Samaritans, to healing the physical and
spiritual wounds of those who suffer. United to each of you in thought
and prayer, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of
strength and peace in the Lord.
From the Vatican, 8 December 2006
BENEDICTUS PP. XVI
[Original text: English]
Pope's Address on World Day
of the Sick 2006
"The Virgin Expressed God's Tenderness for the Suffering"
VATICAN CITY, FEB. 23, 2006 (Zenit.org).- On Feb. 11, World Day of the
Sick, Benedict XVI met in St. Peter's Basilica in the afternoon with
hundreds of sick people, many of them on stretchers or in wheelchairs,
accompanied by health care workers and others. Here is a translation of
the Pope's address at the end of Mass.
* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I join you with great joy and I thank you for your warm welcome. I
greet you in particular, dear sick people who are gathered here in St.
Peter's Basilica, and I want to extend my greeting to all the sick who
are following us on radio or television, and those for whom this is not
possible but who are united with us by the deeper ties of the spirit,
in faith and in prayer.
I greet Cardinal Camillo Ruini who has presided at the Eucharist, and
Cardinal Francesco Marchisano, archpriest of this Vatican basilica. I
greet the other bishops and priests present. I thank the National
Italian Union for Transporting the Sick to Lourdes and International
Shrines (UNITALSI) and the Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi, which arranged
for and organized this meeting with the help of numerous volunteers.
I am also thinking of Australia on the other side of the globe, where
Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragáán, president of the
Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, presided a few hours ago
in Adelaide at the main celebration of the World Day of the Sick.
Fourteen years ago, 11 February, the liturgical memorial of Our Lady of
Lourdes, became World Day of the Sick. We all know that the Virgin
expressed God's tenderness for the suffering in the Grotto of
Massabielle. This tenderness, this loving concern, is felt in an
especially lively way in the world precisely on the day of the feast of
Our Lady of Lourdes, re-presenting in the liturgy, and especially in
the Eucharist, the mystery of Christ, Redeemer of Man, of whom the
Immaculate Virgin is the first fruit.
In presenting herself to Bernadette as the Immaculate Conception, Mary
Most Holy came to remind the modern world, which was in danger of
forgetting it, of the primacy of divine grace which is stronger than
sin and death. And so it was that the site of her apparition, the
Grotto of Massabielle at Lourdes, became a focal point that attracts
the entire People of God, especially those who feel oppressed and
suffering in body and spirit.
"Come to me all of you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give
you rest" (Matthew 11:28), Jesus said. In Lourdes he continues to
repeat this invitation, with the motherly mediation of Mary, to all
those who turn to him with trust.
Dear brothers and sisters, this year, together with my collaborators at
the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, we wished to focus
attention on people affected by mental illness. "Mental health and
human dignity" was the theme of the Congress that has taken place in
Adelaide, at which the scientific, ethical and pastoral aspects were
We all know that Jesus stood before man in his wholeness in order to
heal him completely, in body, mind and spirit. Indeed, the human person
is a unity and his various dimensions can and must be distinguished but
not separated. Thus, the Church too always proposes to consider people
as such, and this conception qualifies Catholic health-care
institutions as well as the approach of the health-care workers
employed in them.
At this time I am thinking in particular of families with a
mentally-ill member who are experiencing the weariness and the various
problems that this entails. We feel close to all these situations,
especially where legislation is lacking, public structures are
inadequate and natural disasters or, unfortunately, wars and armed
conflicts are producing in people serious psychological traumas. These
are forms of poverty which attract the charity of Christ, the Good
Samaritan, and of the Church, indissolubly united with him in her
service to suffering humanity.
I would like today to present symbolically to all the doctors, nurses
and other health-care workers and all the volunteers involved in this
sector the encyclical "Deus Caritas Est," in the hope that God's love
will always be vibrant in their hearts so that it will enliven their
daily work, projects, initiatives and especially their relations with
By acting in the name of charity and in the style of charity, dear
friends, you also make a precious contribution to evangelization, for
the proclamation of the Gospel needs consistent signs that reinforce it.
And these signs speak the language of universal love, a language that
is understandable to all.
In a little while, to re-create the spiritual atmosphere of Lourdes,
all the lights in the basilica will be switched off and we will light
our candles, symbols of faith and of the ardent invocation of God. The
singing of the Ave Maria of Lourdes will invite us to go in spirit to
the Grotto of Massabielle, to the feet of the Immaculate Virgin.
With profound faith let us present to her our human condition, our
illnesses, a sign of neediness that is common to us all as we journey
on in this earthly pilgrimage to be saved by her Son Jesus Christ. May
Mary keep our hope alive so that, faithful to Christ's teaching, we
renew the commitment to relieving our brethren in their sickness. May
the Lord ensure that no one is alone or abandoned in a time of need,
but, on the contrary, can live illness too in accordance with human
dignity. With these sentiments, I wholeheartedly impart my apostolic
blessing to you all: sick people, health-care workers and volunteers.
Pope's Message for 14th
World Day of the Sick 2006
Mental Illness: "A Real and Authentic Social Health Care Emergency"
VATICAN CITY, DEC. 9, 2005 (ZENIT.org).- Here is a translation of the
message Benedict XVI has written for the World Day of the Sick, which
will be held Feb. 11. This year the main focus of the world event will
be in Adelaide, Australia.
* * *
Message of His Holiness Benedict XVI
For the XIV World Day of the Sick
Adelaide, Australia, Feb. 11, 2006
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The World Day of the Sick will be held on Feb. 11, 2006, the liturgical
memorial of the Blessed Virgin of Lourdes.
Last year this Day was held in the Marian sanctuary of
Mvolyéé in Yaoundéé, and on that occasion
the faithful and their pastors, in the name of the whole of the
continent of Africa, reaffirmed their pastoral commitment to the sick.
The next World Day of the Sick will be in Adelaide, in Australia, and
the events will culminate in the celebration of the Eucharist in the
cathedral dedicated to St. Francesco Saverio, the untiring missionary
of the populations of the East.
On that occasion, the Church intends to bow with special solicitude to
the suffering, calling the attention of public opinion to the problems
connected with mental disturbance, which by now afflicts one-fifth of
mankind and constitutes a real and authentic social health care
Remembering the attention that my venerated predecessor Pope John Paul
II gave to this annual event, I, too, dear brothers and sisters, would
like to make myself spiritually present at the World Day of the Sick,
so as to pause to reflect, in harmony with those taking part, on the
situation of the mentally ill in the world and to call for the
commitment of the Church communities to bear witness to the tender
mercy of God towards them.
In many countries, legislation in this field does not yet exist and in
other countries a precise policy on mental health is absent. It should
also be observed that the prolongation of armed conflicts in various
areas of the world, the succession of terrible natural catastrophes,
and the spread of terrorism, in addition to causing a shocking number
of deaths, have also created mental traumas in not a few survivors,
whose recovery at times is difficult.
And in countries with high economic development, the experts recognize
that at the origin of new forms of mental disturbance we may also find
the negative impact of the crisis of moral values. This increases the
sense of loneliness, undermining and even breaking down traditional
forms of social cohesion, beginning with the institution of the family,
and marginalizing the sick, and especially the mentally ill, who are
often seen as a burden for their families and the community.
I would like here to thank those who work in various ways and at
various levels to ensure that the spirit of solidarity does not decline
and that people persevere in looking after these brothers and sisters
of ours, basing themselves on human and Gospel-based ideals and
principles. I thus encourage the efforts of those who work to ensure
that all mentally ill people are given access to necessary forms of
care and treatment. Unfortunately, in many parts of the world the
services for these sick people are lacking, insufficient or in a state
The social context does not always accept the mentally ill, with their
limitations, and for this reason, as well, difficulties are encountered
in securing the human and financial resources that are needed. One
perceives the need to integrate in a better way the tandem appropriate
therapy and a new sensitivity towards disturbance so as to enable
workers in this sector, in a more effective way, to help these sick
people and their families, who on their own would not be able to take
care of their relatives in difficulty in an adequate way. The next
World Day of the Sick is a suitable occasion to express solidarity to
families who have mentally sick people dependent upon them.
I would here like to address myself to you, dear brothers and sisters
burdened by illness, so as to invite you to offer your condition of
suffering, together with Christ, to the Father, certain that every
ordeal received with resignation is meritorious and draws the
benevolence of God upon the whole of mankind. I express my appreciation
to those who help and care for you in residential centers, day
hospitals and wards providing diagnosis and treatment, and I exhort
them to strive to ensure that medical, social and pastoral assistance
for those in need which respects the dignity specific to every human
being is never absent.
The Church, in particular through the work of chaplains, will not fail
to offer you her own help, being well aware that she is called to
express the love and care of Christ for those who suffer and for those
who look after them. I commend pastoral workers and voluntary
associations and organizations to support -- in practical forms and
through practical initiatives -- those families who have mentally ill
people dependent upon them, in relation to whom I hope that the culture
of welcoming and sharing will grow and spread, as a result, also, of
suitable laws and health-care programs that envisage sufficient
resources for their practical application. The training and updating of
the personnel who work in such a very delicate sector of society is as
urgent as ever before.
Every Christian, according to his specific task and specific
responsibility, is called to make his contribution so that the dignity
of these brothers and sisters of ours is recognized, respected and
promoted. "Duc in altum!" This invitation of Christ to Peter and the
Apostles I address to the Church communities spread throughout the
world and in a special way to those who are at the service of the sick,
so that, with the help of "Mary Salus Infirmorum," they may bear
witness to the goodness and the paternal solicitude of God. May the
Holy Virgin comfort those who are afflicted by illness and support
those who, like the Good Samaritan, soothe their corporeal and
I assure each one of you that you will be remembered in my prayers, and
I willingly impart my Blessing on you all.
From the Vatican, Dec. 8, 2005