IS SUFFERING-STRICKEN LIFE STILL SOMETHING GRAND?

Pope Says Yes, and Thanks God for Chance to Meet Disabled Youth

MADRID, Spain, AUG. 20, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Surrounded by the smiles of mentally and physically handicapped youth, Benedict XVI today affirmed that life is grand, even when afflicted by suffering.

The Pope today led one of the most touching events on his World Youth Day schedule: his visit with some 200 youth with disabilities at the Foundation of St. Joseph’s Institute.

“Youth, as I have said more than once, is the age when life discloses itself to us with all its rich possibilities, inspiring us to seek the lofty goals which give it meaning,” the Holy Father said. “So when suffering appears on the horizon of a young life, we are shaken; perhaps we ask ourselves: ‘Can life still be something grand, even when suffering unexpectedly enters it?'”

He answered citing “Spe Salvi,” in which he wrote that the measure of humanity is determined in relation to suffering and those who suffer.

“Jesus and, in his footsteps, his Sorrowful Mother and the saints, are witnesses who shows us how to experience the tragedy of suffering for our own good and for the salvation of the world,” the Holy Father affirmed.

He recalled that no suffering can efface the divine image imprinted on humanity.

“But there is more,” the Pope continued. “Because the Son of God wanted freely to embrace suffering and death, we are also capable of seeing God’s image in the face of those who suffer. This preferential love of the Lord for the suffering helps us to see others more clearly and to give them, above and beyond their material demands, the look of love which they need. But this can only happen as the fruit of a personal encounter with Christ.”

Encouraging the caregivers, the Holy Father told them that every human being is called to the greatness of showing “compassion and loving concern to the suffering, just as God himself did.”

Serving humanity

Benedict XVI further observed the great good that suffering people render to humanity.

“In a mysterious yet real way, their presence awakens in our often hardened hearts a tenderness which opens us to salvation,” he reflected. “The lives of these young people surely touch human hearts and for that reason we are grateful to the Lord for having known them.”

The Pope told the young people that society — “which all too often questions the inestimable value of life, of every life” — needs them.

“In a decisive way you help to build the civilization of love,” he affirmed. “What is more, you play a leading role in that civilization. As sons and daughters of the Church, you offer the Lord your lives, with all their ups and downs, cooperating with him and somehow becoming ‘part of the treasury of compassion so greatly needed by the human race.'”

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