In that grotto the Blessed Virgin also wished to remind us of the need for conversion and penance. Our Mother wanted to emphasize that humanity was redeemed on the Cross, and the actual redemptive value of pain, suffering and voluntary mortification.
What men consider, with only human eyes, as a great evil, with the eyes of good Christians can be a great good: sickness, poverty, pain, failure, defamation, lack of work.... In humanly very difficult moments, we can discover, with the help of grace, that this situation of weakness is a great way to a sincere humility, feeling ourselves in need and in special dependence on God. Illness, or any other misfortune, can help us a lot to detach ourselves a little more from the things of the earth, in which, almost without realizing it, we were perhaps too much involved. We then feel the need to look to Heaven and to strengthen our supernatural hope, as we realize the weakness of human hope.
Sickness helps us to trust more in God, who never tempts us beyond our strength3 , and to place our security in Him, in the divine filiation, in the full abandonment in His strong arms of a father. He knows our strength well and will never ask of us more than we can give. Illness, or any misfortune, is a good occasion to put into practice the advice of St. Augustine: to do all that we can and to ask for what we cannot4 , for He does not command impossible things.
The great proof of love that we can give is to accept sickness and death itself, giving our life as an oblation and sacrifice for Christ, for the good of his Mystical Body, the Church. Our sorrows and pains lose their bitterness when they rise up to Heaven. Poenae sunt pennae, sorrows are wings, says an ancient Latin expression. An illness can be, on some occasions, wings that lift us up to God. How different is the illness received with faith and humility, accepting from the heart the will of God, from the one that, on the contrary, is received with short faith, grumpy, resentful or sad!