Today we celebrate the Sacrament of the Sick at a parish Eucharist. A communal celebration of the sacrament helps break the isolation of suffering and helps keep the vocation of suffering, as Pope John Paul II called it, before our eyes and in our hearts.
Pope Benedict gave a beautiful homily at Lourdes in September, 2008 on the occasion of the 150th Anniversary of the Apparitions at Lourdes. He spoke on the nature of suffering and the grace of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick:
The grace of this sacrament consists in welcoming Christ the healer into ourselves. However, Christ is not a healer in the manner of the world. In order to heal us, he does not remain outside the suffering that is experienced; he eases it by coming to dwell within the one stricken by illness, to bear it and live it with him. Christ’s presence comes to break the isolation which pain induces. Man no longer bears his burden alone: as a suffering member of Christ, he is conformed to Christ in his self-offering to the Father, and he participates, in him, in the coming to birth of the new creation.
Pope Benedict's homily at Lourdes, 2008