Friday, September 30th, 2016

Well-timed message from the Pope

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I have a cold. It seems like everyone I know has a cold.

“Disease is a typically human condition, when we experience strongly that we are not self-sufficient, but we need others.”

Those were Pope Benedict XVI words during Sunday’s Angelus.

In the striking and unusual setting of St Peter’s Square covered with snow, the Pope made it clear that in sickness, “you can experience the attention of others and give attention to others.” Disease, of course, is a condition, he said, that “can become too long and difficult”, and “when healing does not come and suffering is extended, we can remain isolated and overwhelmed.”

The Holy Father made his reflections, a few days before the liturgical memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes, and the World Day of the Sick, …

I’m reminded of what William F Buckley wrote in Nearer, My God: An Autobiography of Faith
about the miracles of Lourdes. Kathryn Lopez thought of the same passage after Buckley’s death:

They are in Lourdes because of this palpability of the emanations that gave birth to the shrine. The spiritual tonic is felt. If it were otherwise, the pilgrims would diminish in number; would, by now, have disappeared, as at Delphos, which one visits as a museum, not a shrine. What it is that fetches them is I think quite simply stated, namely a reinforced conviction that the Lord God loves His creatures, healthy or infirm; that they — we — must understand the nature of love, which is salvific its powers; and that although we are free to attempt to divine God’s purpose, we will never succeed in doing so. The reason is that we cannot know (the manifest contradictions are too disturbing) what is the purpose behind particular phenomena and therefore must make do with only the grandest plan of God, which treats with eternal salvation. Our burden is to keep the faith: to do this (the grammar of ascent) requires the discipline of submission, some assurance that those who are stricken can, even so, be happy; and that the greatest tonic of all is divine love, which is nourished by human love, even as human love is nourished by divine love.

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