LOURDES, France, SEPT. 15, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Christ doesn’t heal suffering by taking it away, but rather by living it with those who suffer, and bringing them toward the hope of a new creation, says Benedict XVI.
The Pope said this today at the homily he gave today, the feast of Our Lady of Sorrow, during the Mass with the sick at Rosary Square at the Marian shrine in Lourdes. Some 70,000 people participated in the Mass.
The Holy Father gave the sacrament of the anointing of the sick to 10 people, among whom was Father Joseph Bordes, former rector of the shrine and author of “Lourdes: In Bernadette’s Footsteps.”
The other nine whom the Pontiff anointed with holy oil on the forehead and hands were from France, Germany and Ireland.
Through the grace of the anointing of the sick, said Benedict XIV, “Christ imparts his salvation by means of the sacraments, and especially in the case of those suffering from sickness or disability.”
“For each individual,” he added, “suffering is always something alien. It can never be tamed. That is why it is hard to bear, and harder still — as certain great witnesses of Christ’s holiness have done — to welcome it as a significant element in our vocation.”
For this reason the Holy Father proposed to those present to welcome “Christ the healer into ourselves.”
“Christ is not a healer in the manner of the world,” he explained. “In order to heal us, he does not remain outside the suffering that is experienced; he eases it by coming to dwell within the one stricken by illness, to bear it and live it with him.
“Christ’s presence comes to break the isolation which pain induces. Man no longer bears his burden alone: As a suffering member of Christ, he is conformed to Christ in his self-offering to the Father, and he participates, in him, in the coming to birth of the new creation.”
“Without the Lord’s help, the yoke of sickness and suffering weighs down on us cruelly,” said the Pope. “By receiving the sacrament of the sick, we seek to carry no other yoke that that of Christ, strengthened through his promise to us that his yoke will be easy to carry and his burden light.”
“I invite those who are to receive the sacrament of the sick during this Mass to enter into a hope of this kind,” he added.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the graces received through this sacrament include the strength, peace and courage “to overcome the difficulties that go with the condition of serious illness or the fragility of old age,” “union with the Passion of Christ” and the grace to contribute “to the sanctification of the Church and to the good of all men for whom the Church suffers and offers herself through Christ to God the Father. (Nos. 1520-1522).
One can receive the sacrament of the anointing of the sick various times in one’s life for several illnesses or different stages of the same illness.