VATICAN CITY, MAR 17, 2007 (VIS) - In the Vatican Basilica at midday today, the Pope received participants in a pilgrimage promoted by OFTAL (Federated Work for the Transportation of the Sick to Lourdes) and by MAC (Apostolic Movement for the Blind).

Both OFTAL, officially founded in 1932, and MAC, the origins of which date back to 1928, "represent experiences of fraternal unity, based on the Gospel and capable of making people in difficulty (in this case the sick and the blind) full participants in the life of the ecclesial community, and builders of a civilization of love."

Benedict XVI recalled how Fr. Alessandro Rastelli, founder of OFTAL, had travelled to Lourdes after suffering an accident. "The experience of his illness made him particularly sensitive to the message of Mary Immaculate, who called him to return to the Grotto of Massabielle, initially in the company of just one sick person - and this is highly significant - and subsequently at the head of a diocesan pilgrimage with more than 300 people, 30 of them sick."

Maria Motta, blind since birth, founder of MAC, "was an apostle of the sightless," said the Pope. "From the spiritual 'network' she formed there grew an association, made up of diocesan groups from all over Italy and approved by Blessed John XXIII with the name of the Apostolic Movement for the Blind."

The members of OFTAL, with "their experience of pilgrimage with the sick," show "a strong sign of faith and solidarity between people" said Pope Benedict, "ignoring their own cares and problems to start out towards a shared goal, a place of the spirit: Lourdes, the Holy Land, Fatima and other shrines."

He described the members of MAC as "bearers of your own special experience, that of walking together, side by side, the sightless and the sighted. This is a testimony of how Christian love enables handicaps to be overcome, and of how to live diversity in a positive way as an opportunity to open up to others, attentive to their problems but above all to their gifts."

"The Church," the Pope concluded, "also needs your contribution in order to be able to respond fully and faithfully to the will of the Lord. And the same can be said of civil society: humanity needs your gifts, which are a prophecy of the Kingdom of God. Do not be frightened by the limits and scarcity of resources, God loves to achieve His work with poor means.

AC/.../ BLIND ASSOCIATIONSVIS 070320 (420)


Teachings of Christ

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:43-44 ESV)

Protection of the Mother of God

Protected by your coming, O Mother of God, * the faithful people celebrate today with splendor, * and, gazing at your most pure image, * we say with compunction: * "Shield us with your precious veil * and deliver us from all evil * imploring your Son, Christ our God, to save our souls.” (Troparion - Tone 4)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Today the Virgin stands forth in the Church, * and with the choirs of saints she invisibly prays to God for us. * The Angels worship with the hierarchs, * and the apostles exult with the prophets, * because, in our behalf, the Mother of God entreats the pre-eternal God. (Kontakion - Tone 3)

The Church celebrates the Feast of the Protection of the Mother of God on October 1st.

Random Proverb

"When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom." (Proverbs 11:2 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

Guard thyself then, O man; thou hast the signs of Antichrist; and remember them not only thyself, but impart them also freely to all. If thou hast a child according to the flesh, admonish him of this now; if thou hast begotten one through catechizing, put him also on his guard, test he receive the false one as the True. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work. I fear these wars of the nations; I fear the schisms of the Churches; I fear the mutual hatred of the brethren. But enough on this subject; only God forbid that it should be fulfilled in our days; nevertheless, let us be on our guard. And thus much concerning Antichrist.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lecture XV