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Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes:
Pope Benedict tells Church to evangelize and care for the sick in body and spirit
Feb. 12, 2010

The Holy Father observed: "'Jesus went throughout Galilee teaching ... and proclaiming the Good News ... and curing every disease and every sickness among the people' ... "The Church ... entrusted with the task of prolonging the Mission of Christ over space and time, cannot ignore these two essential activities: evangelisation and caring for the sick in body and spirit. God, in fact, wishes to heal all of man, and in the Gospel the healing of the body is a sign of a more profound restoration: the remission of sins."[continues below]

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For the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes on Feb. 11, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass at Saint Peter's Basilica. The Day also was the World Day of the Sick and 25th Anniversary of the Pontifical Council for Healthcare Workers. While, as of Feb. 12, the Vatican has only posted the Holy Father's Homily in Italian, the Vatican news release includes extensive quotes from it in English. The full text of the Vatican news release follows, along with resource links.

CHURCH: EVANGELISE AND CARE FOR THE SICK IN BODY AND SPIRIT

VATICAN CITY, 11 FEB 2010 (VIS) - At 10.30 a.m. today, Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, the Holy Father presided at the celebration of the Eucharist in St. Peter's Basilica for the eighteenth World Day of the Sick and the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Pontifical Council for Healthcare Workers. Among those attending the ceremony were sick people from UNITALSI (Italian National Union for Transport of the Sick to Lourdes and International Shrines) and pilgrims of Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi.

Before the celebration began the relics of Bernadette Soubirous were carried in procession around St. Peter's Square then brought to the basilica where they were welcomed by Cardinal Angelo Conastri, archpriest of the basilica. Once inside, the reliquary was placed next to the image of Our Lady of Lourdes, near the Altar of the Confession.

"'Jesus went throughout Galilee teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people", said the Pope quoting the Gospel of St. Matthew at the beginning of his homily. "The Church, which is entrusted with the task of prolonging the mission of Christ over space and time, cannot ignore these two essential activities: evangelisation and caring for the sick in body and spirit. God, in fact, wishes to heal all of man, and in the Gospel the healing of the body is a sign of a more profound restoration: the remission of sins.

"It is no surprise, then, that Mary, mother and model of the Church, should be invoked as 'Salus Infirmorum' (Health of the sick)", the Pope added. "As the first and perfect disciple of her Son she has always showed, as she accompanies the Church's journey, particular concern for those who suffer. ... On the feast of the apparitions of Lourdes, the place chosen by Mary to demonstrate her maternal solicitude for the sick, the liturgy appropriately reaffirms the Magnificat. ... This is not the hymn of those upon whom fortune smiles, who always have 'the wind in their sails'; rather, it is the thanksgiving of those who have experienced the dramas of life, but who trust in the redeeming action of God".

On her pilgrim journey through history, "the Church, like Mary, guards in her bosom the dramas of mankind and the consolation of God", said the Holy Father. "Are not suffering accepted and offered, sincere and gratuitous sharing, miracles of love?" he asked. "For this reason we experience a joy that does not ignore suffering but understands it. In this way, the sick and all those who suffer are, in the Church, not just objects of care and attention but, even more so and above all, participants in the pilgrimage of faith and hope, witness of the prodigies of love and Paschal joy".

The Pope then quoted from the Letter of James: "Are any of you sick? They should call for the elders of the Church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick". And he went on: "in this Year for Priests I would like to underline the bond between sick people and the clergy. ... The sick person should 'call' on priests, and they must respond in order to draw the presence and action of the Risen Lord and His Spirit into the experience of sickness".

"In fact, when the Word of God speaks of healing, of salvation, of the health of the sick, these concepts are meant in their integral significance, never separating soul and body. A sick person healed by the prayer of Christ, through the Church, is a joy on earth and in heaven, a first fruit of eternal life", the Pope concluded.

The events marking the eighteenth World Day of the Sick concluded with a procession which left Castel Sant'Angelo at 4.30 p.m., winding its way down Via della Conciliazione to St. Peter's Square where, at 5.30 p.m., Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study to greet and bless the faithful present.

HML/WORLD DAY SICK/...                                               VIS 100212 (690)

The news items contained in the Vatican Information Service may be used, in part or in their entirety, by quoting the source: V.I.S. -Vatican Information Service.

Copyright © Vatican Information Service 00120 Vatican City 

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