There are “right” and “wrong” ways to live with suffering, Pope Francis has told an apostolate for the evangelization of the sick.
Addressing members of the ‘Apostolate of the Suffering’ and the ‘Silent Workers of the Cross’ in Paul VI Hall of the Vatican May 17, the Pope discussed the attitudes suffering persons should have, as well as those to avoid.
The apostolate’s aim is to bring about “a complete emancipation of suffering persons, through a work of evangelization and teaching of catechism directly carried out by the handicapped.”
The Pope told those gathered that “a wrong attitude” is to “live pain in a passive manner, letting go with inertia and resignation.”
“Even the reaction of rebellion and rejection is not a correct attitude,” he said to the some 5,000 people attending, including 350 who were wheelchair-bound.
“Jesus teaches us to live the pain by accepting the reality of life with trust and hope, bringing the love of God and neighbor, even in suffering: and love transforms everything,” said the Holy Father.
Reminding the sick of what waits for them, Francis said, “I would like to recall with you one of the Beatitudes: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
The Holy Father pointed out that when Jesus said this, he refered to a condition of life on earth, “from which no one is spared.”
Francis listed some reasons for mourning, such as being unhealthy, alone, and misunderstood. “The reasons for suffering are many,” he said.
The Pope explained that when Jesus said, “’Blessed are those who mourn,’” he did “not intend to declare an unfortunate and burdensome condition in life to be happy.”
Jesus, who Francis said “gathered human suffering and assumed them in his flesh, lived them profoundly, one by one,” experienced and knew all the types of suffering well.
“Suffering is not a value in itself,” he stated, “but a reality that Jesus teaches us to live with the correct attitude.”
The meeting came on the 67th anniversary of the founding of the Apostolate of the Suffering and a little over one year after Blessed Luigi’ Novarese’ beatification on May 11, 2013. The two apostolic associations were founded by Blessed Luigi Novarese for evangelization by and among people with illness and disability.
Recalling the founder, Francis said: “This is exactly what Blessed Luigi taught you, educating the sick and the disabled to value their suffering through apostolic action, carried out with faith and love for others. He would always say: ‘The sick must feel that they are the authors of their own apostolate.'”
Francis quoted Blessed Luigi, who said a sick person, a disabled person, can become “’support and light for other people who suffer, in this way transforming the environment in which he lives.’”
“With this charism, you are a gift to the Church,” Francis encouraged.
“Your suffering,” said the Holy Father, “like the wounds of Jesus, on the one hand are scandal for the faith, but on the other hand are the verification of the faith, a sign that God is Love, is faithful, is merciful, is consoler. United to the risen Christ, you are “active participants in the work of evangelization and salvation.”
He invited the faithful to call upon Our Lady to “help you to be true ‘workers of the Cross’ and true ‘volunteers of suffering’, living the crosses and suffering with faith and love, together with Christ.” (D.C.L.)[Translation by Vatican Radio]