CARACAS, Venezuela, JULY 14, 2011 ( The bishop of San Cristobal de Venezuela administered the sacrament of anointing of the sick to the nation's president, who is recovering from cancer.

Bishop Mario del Valle Moronta Rodríguez gave Hugo Chávez the sacrament at a Mass to mark the nation's bicentennial, July 5.

The bishop said that the anointing should not cause alarm.

"It is for the sick to have physical, but above all spiritual strength," he said.

Bishop Moronta reflected in his homily on the importance of the Eucharist in the life of a Christian.

"The [celebration of the] Eucharist is the most important act we Christians have, when we are born, when we are ill, a joy when we marry or are ordained priests, when we celebrate great events, also when we die," he said.

The prelate also noted the bicentennial celebration, inviting the faithful to "live the forthcoming centuries of Venezuela's history in the name of God Almighty, and this means only one important thing, which summarizes all expressions of religiosity, and it is to make the God of life present in our midst."

The bishop reflected on sickness as an opportunity for spiritual purification.

"We all walk toward fullness and that is why God has given us faith, hope and charity, and in this journey of growth a difficult situation can appear, such as sickness," he noted. "And regardless of what the sickness is, it must be seen with the eyes of faith as a moment of purification. The sick person takes advantage of the suffering to purify himself, always according to life, to the fullness of life.

"This is what we pray for the president and for all those who are sick, that they may take advantage of that moment and remember that it is a moment of purification."