The following is a translation of Pope Francis’ video message sent to the Argentinian faithful gathered in the shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes in El Challao, Mendoza, to celebrate her Feast Day on Friday, 11 February.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
You have gathered to prepare and to celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and you are doing so by going on pilgrimage with your soul, and asking the Virgin for a tremendous grace: Mother, help us to be a community that goes out to encounter everyone. Being a community that goes out to encounter everyone, going out to encounter others but also going out to let ourselves be encountered, because an encounter is mutual, an encounter is not almsgiving, it is getting involved for an idea, it is walking together, escaping from “solitude” and isolation to be together with others, with friends, with family, with the People of God, all together praying before Our Lady. This is why we ask Our Lady to help us to be community. Mother, help us be a community, so that we may go out and encounter as a community. Encountering always means opening ourselves to others. The opposite of encounter is to close our hearts. Mother, may our hearts not be closed, because selfishness is like a worm that eats into the heart.
Dear brothers and sisters, I join you in this celebration of the Shrine, I pray for you, and please, I ask you to do the same for me. And I send you my blessing. May Jesus bless you abundantly, and may the Virgin accompany you, taking you by the hand. Have a happy Feast Day!