Saturday, May 12, 2012

Suffering is also God’s Gift

In October 1996, Pope John Paul II was hospitalized again, this time to undergo surgery for the removal of an inflamed appendix. It was the fourth time he had major abdominal surgery at the hospital since 1981. A few days before going into the hospital, he appeared weak and tired in public, and his left hand trembled noticeably, leading observers to speculate that he had Parkinson's disease or some other neurological disorder.

Ours is a living faith -- it is not merely a faith of facts and moral precepts, but is a faith that is lived. Thus, while official and scholarly works of the Magisterium are all well and good, in spreading the Good News, often the best way is to provide a personal witness, to speak of the goodness and love of the Lord in our own personal lives.

Pope John Paul again spoke of his personal experience with suffering, uniting himself with the sick and suffering of the world, and all with Christ and His Blessed Mother. In doing so, he again took the paradoxical approach of rejoicing and being thankful for his sufferings, and giving words of good cheer.

Address of Bl. Pope John Paul II from Gemelli Hospital
Angelus, October 13, 1996
Dear Brothers and Sisters, I am deeply grateful to the Lord who today too has offered me the opportunity to meet you for the recitation of the Angelus. I am still in hospital, in this place of suffering and hope, a place of great care for the sick, a place of life. I would like first of all to address a greeting from here to those who are suffering physically and mentally, and to those who serve the sick: the doctors and nurses, the health-care personnel and support staff. May the Lord bless and comfort them all. . . .

My thoughts now turn to Mary most holy, whom the Christian people invoke as Queen of the Holy Rosary during the month of October. I entrust the Church and myself to her. I do so shortly before the 15th anniversary of my Petrine ministry and the 50th anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood.

During these days of illness I have been able to understand better the value of the service that the Lord has called me to render the Church as a priest, as a Bishop and as the Successor of Peter: it is also given through the gift of suffering by which it is possible to complete in one's own flesh "what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is the Church" (Col 1:24).

May the Blessed Virgin accept the renewed offering of myself – Totus tuus ego sum – and watch caringly over my ministry and over the Church, comforting her on the way towards the Great Jubilee of the birth in time of the eternal Son of God.

I cordially greet all who are present in what I could call "Vatican number three", because "Vatican number one" is St Peter's Square, "number two" is Castel Gandolfo and number three has become the Gemelli Polyclinic. Thus after 1981, we see Vatican number three again, 15 years later, in 1996.

I greet you.

I thank this "Vatican number three", this Gemelli Polyclinic, for all the good that I have found here in the professors the doctors, the sisters and all the staff. And I thank you pilgrims who again have found your way to this "Vatican number three," to be together, to pray together, to sing together.

I greet all the Italians and all the others of various nationalities. I greet the Poles.

I greet Solidarity. They are now 15 years old, more or less, maybe a little older. Hold fast and do not give in! I greet all the Poles.

God bless you!

And once again, in person, I would like to give a blessing in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Now, I have to go back to my room. Let us hope that next Sunday we will celebrate the Angelus at "Vatican number one", in St Peter's Square.

I renew my greetings to all the patients who are staying in this large hospital with me.


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