The grotto at Lourdes where Our Lady appeared. / Alessio Di Cintio/CNA.
Vatican City, Feb 11, 2022 / 12:00 pm (CNA).
Pope Francis on Friday encouraged Catholics to ask Our Lady of Lourdes to intercede for them to have a heart more open to encountering other people and their needs.
In a video message for the Feb. 11 feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, the pope explained that “encounter is always opening oneself to others.”
“The opposite of encounter is closing one’s heart,” he said. “Mother, help us not to have closed hearts, because selfishness is a moth that gnaws at the heart from within.”
On Feb. 11, the Catholic Church celebrates the liturgical memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes. The feast day recalls when the Virgin Mary appeared to a young St. Bernadette Soubirous in a cave-grotto in southwestern France from Feb. 11 to July 16, 1858.
Since 1992, the day has also been observed as the World Day of the Sick.
In his message to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes in El Challao, Mendoza, western Argentina. Pope Francis said he joined in the shrine’s celebrations and was praying for all those taking part. He also asked for prayers.
He emphasized again the Christian meaning of encounter, which, he said, “is not a handout, it is putting oneself on the line for an idea, it is walking together, avoiding being alone and isolating oneself in order to be together with others, with friends, with family, with the People of God, all together in prayer before the Virgin.”
“That is why we ask the Virgin to help us to be community. Mother, help us to be community,” he said.