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Monday, March 9, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI Notes Vocational Renewal Through Retreat


VATICAN CITY, MARCH 8, 2009 (Zenit.org).- After his Lenten retreat, Benedict XVI is sharing highlights of his experience and thanking the preacher for pointing to Jesus in the Church, in his Word, and in the Eucharist.

The Pope affirmed this Saturday in an address at the conclusion of his Lenten spiritual exercises. The retreat was given to him and the Roman curia by Cardinal Francis Arinze, retired prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

The Pontiff thanked the cardinal, acknowledging that the meditations "led, enlightened, helped and renewed us in our priesthood."

He told the retreat preacher, "You have not given us theological acrobatics, but you have given us sound doctrine, the good bread of our faith."

The spiritual exercises began on March 1 and centered on the theme, "The Priest Meets Jesus and Follows Him."

Word of God

The Holy Father noted the retreat's focus on "the Sacred Scriptures, the Word of God that gives us true nourishment," and the cardinal's presentation of this Word "in complete relevance."

He affirmed that he "admired and enjoyed this concrete experience" of Cardinal Arinze's 50 years in the priesthood that helped to "concretize our faith."

Benedict XVI spoke about the story of the first disciples who followed Jesus after his invitation, "Come and see." He stated: "To see we must come, we must walk with Jesus, who always precedes us.

"Only in walking with and following Jesus can we see." He told the cardinal, "You have shown us where Jesus lives, where his dwelling is: in the Church, in his Word, in the most holy Eucharist."

Encountering Jesus

Speaking to Radio Vatican Saturday, Cardinal Arinze described the spiritual exercises as a "very positive" experience: "Seeing all meditating, praying with Jesus in the middle, daily Eucharistic adoration, and then an individual time for each, in total silence [...] It's very uplifting and positive for the Church."

The cardinal explained that in the daily preaching he wanted to transmit a central message: "The priest accepts the invitation of Jesus, he finds him and follows him. And as the Apostles were with him three years, we try to stay with Jesus so that all our lives become as the offertory procession [in the mass]."

The priest, like everyone else, he said, encounters Jesus by "believing in him, encounters Jesus in the Church, in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist. He encounters Jesus in the people that serve the Church, he encounters Jesus in the people that suffer: the people who have need for justice, peace and solidarity."

Cardinal Arinze continued: "Find Jesus in prayer, find Jesus in the Sacred Scripture, where Jesus speaks to us. This is the heart of these thoughts with Scripture and the liturgy as guides."

"I tried to share my Jesus, if I may say so -- without the pretense of being a great teacher, but trying, with the Scripture and liturgy as guides, to follow Jesus and to share I could," he concluded.

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