On 11th February each year, in memory of the Blessed Virgin of Lourdes, the Church, proposes the World Day of the Sick. It is a time to reflect on the mystery of suffering and to draw the attention of our communities and civil society to the needs of our sick Brothers and Sisters. You should be at the centre of attention and not be forgotten or marginalised, to prevent society from being cruel and inhuman. It must be compassionate. When I visited Turin, I reflected and prayed before the Holy Shroud, remembering the sufferings of Christ. St. Peter writes “By his wounds, you have been healed”. Christ suffered, died and rose again, with his wounds becoming a sign of our redemption, of forgiveness and reconciliation with the Father. This becomes a test of faith. “Only a God who loves us to the extent of taking upon himself our wounds and our pain, specifically innocent suffering is worthy of faith” (Urbi et Orbi Message. Easter 2007). Dear Sick and Suffering, although the Lord rising again, did not remove suffering and evil from the World, he defeated them at their root. The way of peace is joy and love. We must follow our Master and be ready to spend our lives for our Brothers and Sisters and be messengers of joy, that, does not feel pain. God became man, so that, he could suffer with us, in a real way, in flesh and blood. We have the consolation of Gods participating love, so as to make the star of hope rise. I am looking forward, to World Youth Day in August 2011 and thinking of Young People, especially those experiencing illness. Do not be afraid of the Passion and the Cross of Jesus. In reality, the Cross is God’s positive answer to mankind, as being the highest and most intensive expression of his love and the source of eternal life. Dear Young People, “see and meet” Jesus in the Eucharist, create bridges of love and solidarity, so that, no one feels alone and is part of Gods family. Dear sick people, feel the nearness of the Sacred Heart of Christ crucified, this heart full of love and draw faith and joy from this source, praying “Water of the side of Christ, wash me, Passion of Christ, strengthen me, O Good Jesus, hear my prayer, In your wounds, hide me” (Prayer of St Ignatius of Loyola). I would like to express my affection to each and every one of you and hope, that, you live every day in union with the crucified and risen Christ, so that he gives you peace and healing of heart. Together with Him, may the Virgin Mary keep watch at your side. Her motherly compassion for the Son, becomes motherly compassion for each of us in our daily suffering. Dear Brothers and Sisters, I invite authorities to invest more in healthcare, that supports and helps the suffering. I send greetings to all religious, healthcare workers, volunteers and all those dedicated to treating and relieving the wounds of every sick brother and sister wherever they are. I assure you all, that, I will remember you in my prayers, as I bestow upon you my Apostolic Blessing.
“Together with the Risen Christ may the Virgin Mary, whom we invoke with trust as Health of the Sick and Consoler of the Suffering, keep watch at your side! At the foot of the Cross the prophecy of Simon was fulfilled for her: her heart as a Mother was pierced (cf. Lk 2:35). From the depths of her pain, a participation in that of her Son, Mary is made capable of accepting the new mission: to become the Mother of Christ in his members. At the hour of the Cross, Jesus presents to her each of his disciples, saying: “Behold your son” (cf. Jn 19:26-27). Her maternal compassion for the Son becomes maternal compassion for each one of us in our daily sufferings
(Pope Benedict, Homily at Lourdes, 15 September 2008).