Discovering the Meaning of Pain


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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 28, 2009 ( Benedict XVI's visit last Sunday to San Giovanni Rotondo, where Padre Pio is buried, served to disclose the meaning of pain, a Vatican spokesman affirmed.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, noted in his weekly editorial on the Vatican Television program "Octava Dies," the "unforgettable" witness made by a woman named Anna who greeted the Pontiff during the daytrip.

"The Pope's travels are not only important because of what the Pope says and does, but also because of the sentiments and words that they stir up [in others]," the spokesman said.

Anna met the Holy Father at the entrance of the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza (Home to Relieve Suffering), established by St. Pio of Pietrelcina, popularly known as Padre Pio.

"I didn't ask myself, 'Why me?'" she told the Pope, when recounting how she reacted to a diagnosis of cancer. "But instead I said to myself, 'Why not me?'"

She said that she would pray, "God, what plan do you have for me?"

"Like the Virgin and so many other worthy and holy people," continued Anna, "I didn't want to rebel, but wanted to say: 'Here I am. I'm ready.'"

Father Lombardi asked, "How should we live with the expectation of death, living the daily life that remains in such a way as to offer something good to the Lord?"

He continued, "It is never too late to begin working in his vineyard, to dedicate our life to the good, even with the good will of words and small deeds."

In reference to Anna, Father Lombardi noted that it is true "that a diagnosis of cancer is terrible, t causes fear; but not to be God's friend, to distance ourselves from his love, is more terrible still."

"So we understand that suffering can become a great treasure," the spokesman continued. "We understand that it questions each of us, and we understand what Padre Pio meant when -- as the Pope recalled -- he said that 'patients, doctors, priests, must have "reserves of love," that the more they abound in one, the more they will communicated to others.'"

"Not only at San Giovanni Rotondo," he concluded, "but in the whole world, all suffering, before the suffering face of Christ, must be able to become love."