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

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul?" (Mark 8:34-37 ESV)

Lamb and Redeemer

When You were baptized in the Jordan, O Lord, * worship of the Trinity was revealed, * for the Father's voice bore witness to You, calling You His “beloved Son”, * and the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the certainty of these words. * O Christ God, * Who appeared and enlightened the world, glory to You! (Troparion, Tone 1)

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

You have appeared to the whole world today, * and Your light, O Lord, is signed upon us, * who with knowledge praise You in song: * "You have come, and You have appeared, O Unapproachable Light." (Kontakion, Tone 4)

Random Proverb

"My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights." (Proverbs 3:11,12 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

It is a fearful thing to hate whom God has loved. To look upon another – his weaknesses, his sins, his faults, his defects – is to look upon one who is suffering. He is suffering from negative passions, from the same sinful human corruption from which you yourself suffer. This is very important: do not look upon him with the judgmental eyes of comparison, noting the sins you assume you’d never commit. Rather, see him as a fellow sufferer, a fellow human being who is in need of the very healing of which you are in need. Help him, love him, pray for him, do unto him as you would have him do unto you.

St. Tikhon of Zadonsk