Home » Posts tagged 'Lenten retreat'

Humility need to recognize God’s voice in others, priest tells pope and Curia during retreat

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Humility is needed in order to recognize the voice of God in others, especially those who are perceived to be weak or subject to prejudice, a Franciscan friar told Pope Francis and members of the Roman Curia during their Lenten retreat.

Pope Francis prays during a March 6-11 Lenten retreat in Ariccia, 20 miles southeast of Rome. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano)

Pope Francis prays during a March 6-11 Lenten retreat in Ariccia, 20 miles southeast of Rome. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano)

God not only speaks through Jesus, but also speaks to him through Peter, who recognizes Christ as the Messiah “by revelation,” Franciscan Father Giulio Michelini said March 6, according to Vatican Radio.

“Do I have the humility to listen to Peter? Do we have the humility to listen to one another, paying attention to prejudices that we certainly have, but attentive to receive that which God wants to say despite, perhaps, my closures? Do I listen to the voice of others, perhaps weak, or do I only listen to my voice?” he asked.

The pope and top members of the Roman Curia attended their annual Lenten retreat March 5-10 at the Pauline Fathers’ retreat center in Ariccia, 20 miles southeast of Rome.

Father Michelini was chosen by Pope Francis to lead meditations on the Gospel of Matthew’s description of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus.

The Franciscan delivered two meditations March 6, with the first reflecting on “Peter’s confession and Jesus’ path toward Jerusalem.”

According to Vatican Radio, Father Michelini called on the 74 people present for the retreat to reflect on the criteria on which they base their discernment and whether “I place myself and my personal benefit before the kingdom of God.”

To listen and act upon God’s will, he said, Christians must have “courage to go into the deep to follow Jesus Christ, taking into account that this involves carrying the cross.”

Jesus, he added, not only proclaimed the joy of the resurrection “but also trial” when he said “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

In the afternoon, Father Michelini delivered his second meditation, “Jesus’ last words and the beginning of the Passion.”

He explained that the reading of Christ’s Passion reveals two distinct types of logic: Jesus, an observant Jewish layman preparing to celebrate the Passover, and the high priests, who are concerned with the outward appearance of the feast but, at the same time, “prepare to murder an innocent man.”

The question Christians must ask themselves, he said, is if they are “sacred professionals resorting to compromise in order to save the facade, the institution at the expense of individual rights.”

“This is about an attitude that loses the right perspective, believing they are serving God,’ Father Michelini said.

 

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

Comments Off on Humility need to recognize God’s voice in others, priest tells pope and Curia during retreat

Challenging questions a sign faithful aren’t content with ‘same old answers,’ preacher tells pope

By

 

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — At the end of a Lenten retreat focused on questions in the Gospels, Servite Father Ermes Ronchi told Pope Francis and senior members of the Roman Curia that it is tempting to bristle when the faithful ask challenging questions, but he is certain it is a sign of how seriously they take the faith.

Pope Francis, along with senior members of the Roman Curia, listen as Servite Father Ermes Ronchi, an Italian theologian, delivers his meditation during a weeklong Lenten retreat in Ariccia, Italy, March 7. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano)

Pope Francis, along with senior members of the Roman Curia, listen as Servite Father Ermes Ronchi, an Italian theologian, delivers his meditation during a weeklong Lenten retreat in Ariccia, Italy, March 7. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano)

“It gives me hope to see how, among the people of God, questions continue to grow and no one is content with the same old answers,” Father Ronchi told the retreatants March 11 during his last talk before the pope and Curia members returned to the Vatican.

“When everyone silently accepted the word of a priest was it a time of greater faith,” he asked. “I think the opposite is true and even if this means more work for us, it is also an ‘alleluia,’ a ‘finally.’”

Mary’s question — “How can this be?” — in response to the Annunciation was Father Ronchi’s focus for the final meditation at the March 6-11 retreat at a center run by the Pauline Fathers in Ariccia, 20 miles southeast of Rome. While the retreat was private, Vatican Radio and L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, provided coverage of Father Ronchi’s talks.

“Being perplexed, asking questions is a way of standing before the Lord with all of one’s human dignity,” the Servite said. Like Mary, “I accept the mystery, but at the same time I use my intelligence.”

“No one ever said that a rock-solid faith is better than a faith interwoven with questions,” Father Ronchi said; questioners know and show that they need God and need dialogue with him.

In a reflection March 10, Father Ronchi looked at the risen Jesus’ words to Mary Magdalene outside the empty tomb, “Woman, why are you weeping?”

“The first words of the Risen One in the garden on Easter,” he said, “have an extraordinary tenderness: ‘Tell me about your tears; they are more important to me than anything.’”

The preacher insisted that “God’s archive, his memory,” is not full of lists of people’s sins, but of their tears and suffering.

Stopping, listening and touching those in pain was Jesus’ response to tears and must be the response of his followers, Father Ronchi said. But, unfortunately, “centuries of moralism have turned the works of mercy into reluctant obligations, as if they were the price of salvation.”

His talk about tears followed an evening meditation March 9 on Jesus’ question to the woman caught in adultery. After Jesus told the crowd that whoever was without sin should cast the first stone, the crowd left and Jesus asked the woman, “Has no one condemned you?”

Father Ronchi said, “Those who love to accuse, who get drunk off the defects of others, think they are safeguarding the truth by stoning those who err. But it is how wars are started” between countries or within communities, including churches.

In the Gospel story, he said, “the judgment against the woman caught in adultery boomerangs against the hypocrisy of the judges: No one can throw the first stone because they would be hurling it at themselves.”

The Gospel story does not minimize the woman’s sin, he said, but illustrates Jesus’ focus on helping her turn her life around; “Go, and from now on do not sin any more,” Jesus tells her.

Comments Off on Challenging questions a sign faithful aren’t content with ‘same old answers,’ preacher tells pope

Preach hope, not a faith mixed with fear, priest tells pope and curia on Lenten retreat

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Jesus’ call to be the salt of the earth is a reminder to his disciples to preach hope and life and not be wrapped up in dogmatic conundrums, a Servite priest told the pope and Vatican officials.

“We are salt that has lost its flavor if we are not resolute men, if we are not free from masks and fear. People want to receive fragments of life from Jesus’ disciples, not fragments of doctrine,” Servite Father Ermes Ronchi said.

Pope Francis arrives for a weeklong Lenten retreat, flanked by Father Valdir Jose De Castro, superior general of the Society of St. Paul, Msgr. Leonardo Sapienza, regent of the papal household and several senior members of the Roman Curia in Ariccia, Italy, March 6. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano)

Pope Francis arrives for a weeklong Lenten retreat, flanked by Father Valdir Jose De Castro, superior general of the Society of St. Paul, Msgr. Leonardo Sapienza, regent of the papal household and several senior members of the Roman Curia in Ariccia, Italy, March 6. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano)

The Italian priest, who is a member of Rome’s Pontifical “Marianum” theological faculty, was chosen by Pope Francis to lead the Lenten retreat of the Roman Curia; he chose to preach on the theme: “The bare questions of the Gospel.”

The March 6-11 retreat was held at the Pauline Fathers’ retreat center in Ariccia, 20 miles southeast of Rome.

In his morning meditation March 7, Father Ronchi spoke about fear, which entered the world after Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden. Adam’s hiding out of fear of God’s wrath, he said, indicates the effect of sin, which keeps the possibility of mercy far from him. For Christians, he added, this fear “produces a sad Christianity, a God without joy.”

“In this sense, the enemy of fear is not courage but faith,” he said.

Reflecting on the passage in Mark’s Gospel where Jesus calms the storm, Father Ronchi said that fear initially drives the disciples on the boat to “almost command” God to act and save them from doom.

However, he added, “God does not take us out of the storm but supports us within the storm.”

The church, which “for a long time has transmitted a faith mixed with fear,” is called instead to free men and women from the fear of God like “the angels have done through sacred history.”

“Be angels who free (people) from fear,” Father Ronchi told the Vatican officials.

In the afternoon, Father Ronchi focused on the Bible passage from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in which he says, “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?”

The Servite priest told Vatican officials that the imagery of the salt, which dissipates in order to season, reflects the mission of a church that “gives of itself and melts away.”

“Salt and light are not intended to perpetuate themselves but to pour themselves out. And so it is with the church: It is not an end, but a means to make person’s life better and more beautiful,” he said.

Father Ronchi chose to reflect on the church’s mission to give a true witness to Jesus on the retreat’s third day March 8. Drawing from the Gospel reading on Peter’s profession of faith, the Italian theologian said Jesus’ question, “But who do you say that I am?” is a query that “digs into the soul.”

“The answer Jesus is looking for are not words. He is looking for people. Not definitions but engagements,” he said. “Jesus does not give lessons, he does not suggest answers; he gently leads you to look inside of yourself.”

Jesus’ question, he continued, is striking given that he “does not indoctrinate anyone” nor compels the disciples to give a “prepackaged response.” Peter’s answer that Christ “is the son of the living God” is a witness that “Christ is living within us.”

“Our heart can become either God’s cradle or his tomb,” he said.

Jesus’ ordering of the disciples “to tell no one that he was the Messiah,” Father Ronchi said, extends to the church, which sometimes has preached a “deformed” perception of God and is called to preach through their own personal witness.

“We clergy look all the same: the same gestures, words and clothes. But people are asking us to ‘Give me an experience of God.’ Jesus is not what I say of him but what I live from him. We are not mediators between God and humanity; the true mediator is Jesus,” he said.

 

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

Comments Off on Preach hope, not a faith mixed with fear, priest tells pope and curia on Lenten retreat

Pope calls theologian to ask a favor: To lead Lenten retreat

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis phoned a noted Italian theologian to ask him for a “favor,” to help him and Vatican officials prepare for Easter by leading an annual Lenten retreat, the theologian said.

Servite Father Ermes Ronchi, an Italian theologian, has been asked by Pope Francis to lead the pope's annual Lenten retreat in Ariccia, a town about 20 miles southeast of Rome. (CNS file/Cristian Gennari)

Servite Father Ermes Ronchi, an Italian theologian, has been asked by Pope Francis to lead the pope’s annual Lenten retreat in Ariccia, a town about 20 miles southeast of Rome. (CNS file/Cristian Gennari)

The pope calling his cellphone caught Servite Father Ermes Ronchi by surprise, he said, and “my first reaction was trepidation, excitement.”

“When he told me that he had a favor to ask me, I didn’t hesitate and answered, ‘But of course, go ahead, whatever you need …,’” the priest told his local newspaper, Messaggero Veneto, Jan. 12.

But when the pope told the priest he wanted him to organize and lead a weeklong series of “spiritual exercises” for the pope and top Roman Curia officials, the priest said, “I tried to stall and I told him that I wasn’t sure I was the right person or good enough for the assignment he was offering me.”

He said the pope cut right to the chase and said, “So, we’re starting Sunday, March 6,” but then the pope asked the priest if he wanted “to check your calendar first” to make sure he wasn’t already busy.

At that point, Father Ronchi said he didn’t need to check his schedule and accepted the pope’s offer.

The annual retreat is expected to take place March 6-12 at a Pauline Fathers’ retreat and conference center in Ariccia, a town about 20 miles southeast of Rome.

Father Ronchi, 68, studied at the Sorbonne University in Paris, specializing in cultural anthropology and the history of religions.

A prolific author, he also teaches theological aesthetics and iconography at Rome’s Pontifical Theological Faculty Marianum, and he’s a regular contributor to Avvenire, the daily newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference.

He also has his own segment on a weekly television program on RAI 1, Italy’s main station, in which he reflects on the Gospel.

Pope Francis quoted the Italian theologian in his most recent pre-Christmas address to the Roman Curia, saying, “Mercy is a scandal for justice, insanity for the intellect and consolation for we who are in debt. The debt of existence, the debt of being loved is paid only with mercy.”

Comments Off on Pope calls theologian to ask a favor: To lead Lenten retreat

Pope and Curia are on a Lenten retreat outside of Rome

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The Lenten journey of conversion requires Christians to rediscover the “deepest truth” about themselves, cast off their masks and take on the courage to live truth, a prominent Carmelite priest told the pope and Vatican officials. Read more »

Comments Off on Pope and Curia are on a Lenten retreat outside of Rome

Pope says it’s important to follow Jesus with hope and a sense of humor

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — At the end of his Lenten retreat, Pope Francis said he and his closest collaborators at the Vatican “want to follow Jesus more closely, without losing hope in his promises and without losing a sense of humor.”

The pope and 82 members of the Roman Curia, who left the Vatican by bus March 9 to travel the 20 miles to the Pauline Fathers’ retreat and conference center in Ariccia, returned to the Vatican by bus March 14.

Pope Francis rides in a bus with cardinals and bishops at the and of their weeklong Lenten retreat in Ariccia, Italy, March 14. At the end of the retreat, Pope Francis said he and his closest collaborators at the Vatican “want to follow Jesus more closely, without losing hope in his promises and without losing a sense of humor.” (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

Before they left the retreat house, Pope Francis thanked Msgr. Angelo De Donatis, the pastor of St. Mark’s parish in the center of Rome, whom he had chosen to guide the Lenten retreat.

“We are returning home with a good seed, the seed of the word of God,” the pope told him. “The Lord will send the rain and that seed will grow. It will grow and bear fruit. We thank the Lord for the seed and for the rain he will send, but we also want to thank the sower.”

Pope Francis said Msgr. De Donatis really knew what he was doing. “He threw some seed here and he threw some there without knowing it, or pretending not to know, but he hit the mark.”

The 10 meditations offered by the monsignor focused on “the purification of the heart.”

While the meditations were not made public, the Vatican newspaper offered brief reports on their content. According to L’Osservatore Romano, Msgr. De Donatis began the final reflections March 13 talking about how no one could understand the value of God’s love using economics or commerce, which too often are the only way modern people determine the value of anything.

He told the story of a little boy in a first Communion class in his parish who asked him, “Do you know Jesus so well through your work or are you friends?” Msgr. De Donatis told the pope and Curia officials that the only way to truly know Jesus is through friendship and love.

 

Comments Off on Pope says it’s important to follow Jesus with hope and a sense of humor

Faith is light at end of life’s struggles, pope says

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — When life feels like a dark and silent tunnel, faith gives a Christian light and music, Pope Benedict XVI said at the end of his weeklong Lenten retreat.

Congolese Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa led the pope’s retreat Feb. 26-March 3 in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel of the Apostolic Palace, offering the pope and top Vatican officials three meditations each day on the theme “Christians’ Communion With God.”

Read more »

Comments Off on Faith is light at end of life’s struggles, pope says
Marquee Powered By Know How Media.