Pope Ends Lenten Retreat


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(27 Feb 10 - RV) On Saturday, Pope Benedict XVI and his collaborators of the Vatican Curia concluded their week of Lenten Spiritual Exercises, on the theme: "Lessons of God and the Church on the priestly vocation".

Pope Benedict XVI emerged from a week of prayer, reflection and silence to describe the meditations offered by Salesian Priest, Don Enrico Dal Covolo as a very "passionate and personal reflection" on the ministry of the priesthood.

The spiritual exercises in preparation for Easter, which had started on Sunday 21 with the exposure of the Eucharist and the celebration of Vespers, were held throughout the week in the "Redemptoris Mater" chapel of the Apostolic Palace, with morning and afternoon sessions.

On Saturday thanking the Don Enrico, the Pope stressed the importance of having an inner ear and docility of heart which renders us capable of listening to God:

In impromptu remarks he noted that the act of listening "sums up the Christian vision of man" because man is a relational being, "he needs to listen and be listened to, above all he needs to listen to God. Only then will he truly become himself".

This form of listening, the Pope continued, is a sign of wisdom that can only be achieved in communion with the Church. A form that Pope Benedict revealed he contemplated during these days while gazing at one of the beautiful mosaics that adorn the Redemptoris Mater chapel, a mosaic which portrays the Virgin Mary, called the "Living Throne of Wisdom".

"The Church Fathers say that the moment of conception of the Eternal Word in the womb of the Virgin Mary in the Holy Spirit came through the ear. Listening conceived the Eternal Word. And thus it is to have a listening heart. "

The Holy Father also recalled the so-called "emblem" priests presented by Don Enrico Dal Covolo, which gave substance to their reflection on the vocation to ordained ministry. Five portraits of exemplary priests, from St. John Vianney to John Paul II, with a preamble focusing on the idea that the priesthood has ancient Fathers, such as St. Augustine and St. Ignatius of Antioch:

"With renewed courage" he concluded "we now face our mission".