“You, who are at the foot of the cross, perhaps alone, isolated, abandoned, homeless, expelled from your family or from your country, victims of alcohol, prostitution, disease: Be aware that God loves you. God especially listens to your prayer,” Pope Francis said in a video message Nov. 15 to pilgrims in Lourdes, France.
“Brothers and sisters, I need you all, each one of you,” the Pope said. “The world suffers, and your prayer moves the Lord.”
In the message, Pope Francis greeted those gathered in Lourdes Nov. 14-17 for the World Day of the Poor.
Millions of people travel to Lourdes each year to pray at the site where the Virgin Mary appeared to St. Bernadette Soubirous in 1858 under the title “the Immaculate Conception,” and manifested healing spring water.
“It is Mary who welcomes us here. She is the Immaculate. She appeared to Bernadette, a poor shepherdess. It is good news for all of us who recognize ourselves as poor and small: ‘What God has hidden from the wise and learned, he has revealed to the little ones,’” Pope Francis said.
“You who are small, you who are poor, fragile, you are the treasure of the Church. You are in the heart of the Pope, in the heart of Mary, in the heart of God,” he said.
Pope Francis established the annual World Day of the Poor at the end of the Jubilee Year of Mercy in 2016.
This year, the Pope will celebrate the World Day of the Poor with a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on Nov. 17, followed by a lunch at the Vatican with more than 1,000 impoverished people invited as guests.
In his video message, Pope Francis invited each person to “live the sacraments,” adding that they are gifts from the Church.
“I invite you to discover especially confession, the sacrament of forgiveness, in which God shows us his tenderness and frees us,” the Pope said. He also invited the sick to receive the sacrament of anointing.
Pope Francis said that to receive the Eucharist is to welcome God into one’s body and soul, filling it with faith and joy.
“Do you want to be a Christian? Ask for the baptism,” he added.
“Let us ask the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Love, to inspire acts of charity, of benevolence toward those around us,” he said. “There is no one so poor as to have nothing to give.”
He added: “Love saves the world, and God wants to go through us to save the world.”