Pope Benedict XVI Releases Message for World Day of the Sick

Event To Take Place in February at Marian Shrine of Altotting

Vatican City, (Zenit.org) Junno Arocho Esteves | 2237 hits

Under the theme "Go and Do Likewise", Pope Benedict XVI released his message for the 21stWorld Day of the Sick which will be celebrated on February 11. The event, which coincides with the liturgical feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes, will take places this year at the Marian Shrine of Altotting in Germany.

In his message, the Holy Father called the upcoming world day as a moment for the sick, health care workers, the faithful, and all people of good will to offer their sufferings for the good of the Church and as "a call for all to recognize in the features of their suffering brothers and sisters the Holy Face of Christ."

"On this occasion, I feel especially close to you, dear friends, who in health care centers or at home, are undergoing a time of trial due to illness and suffering. May all of you be sustained by the comforting words of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council: 'You are not alone, separated, abandoned or useless. You have been called by Christ and are his living and transparent image'," the Pope wrote.

Pope Benedict went on to encourage those partaking on the spiritual pilgrimage that "leads us from Lourdes" to the Shrine of Altotting, to reflect on the figure of the Good Samaritan. Recalling the parable from the Gospel of Luke, the Holy Father stated that Christ's call at the end of the parable to "go and do likewise" is the attitude that his followers should have for those in need.

"We need to draw from the infinite love of God, through an intense relationship with him in prayer, the strength to live day by day with concrete concern, like that of the Good Samaritan, for those suffering in body and spirit who ask for our help, whether or not we know them and however poor they may be," the Holy Father stated.

The 85 year old pontiff continued saying that this call does not hold to only pastoral or health care workers, but to everyone, including the sick, who can live out their suffering "from a perspective of faith. Citing his encyclical, "Spe Salvi", Pope Benedict stated that "it is not by sidestepping or fleeing from suffering that we are healed, but rather by our capacity for accepting it, maturing through it and finding meaning through union with Christ, who suffered with infinite love."

Pope Benedict XVI also reminded the faithful in his message that the Year of Faith is a "fitting occasion" for the World Day of the Sick that allows all the opportunity to intensify the service of charity in their respective ecclesial community, thus making "each one of us can be a good Samaritan for others."

The Holy Father recalled the many figures of the Catholic Church who embodied this perspective of faith. Examples of this, such as Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, Veneral Luidi Novarese, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta and Saint Anne Schafer of Mindelstetten, were among those who "helped the sick to appreciate the human and spiritual value of their suffering, so that they might serve as an example and an encouragement."

After offering his gratitude to Catholic health care institutions, diocesan and Christian communities, religious congregations and health care workers and volunteers, the Holy Father concluded his message entrusting the world day to the intercession of the Our Lady of Graces.

"I entrust this Twenty-first World Day of the Sick to the intercession of Our Lady of Graces, venerated at Altötting, that she may always accompany those who suffer in their search for comfort and firm hope. May she assist all who are involved in the apostolate of mercy, so that they may become good Samaritans to their brothers and sisters afflicted by illness and suffering," the Holy Father concluded.