For Many, Hope Is Very Difficult, Says Preacher

Papal-Retreat Director Focuses on a Key Task for Christians

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 18, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Christians must transmit hope to the world, a preacher said on the last full day of the Spiritual Exercises being attended by John Paul II.



Bishop Renato Corti of Novara, Italy, who is preaching the retreat for the Pope and officials of the Roman Curia, dedicated his first meditation today to the resurrection of Jesus and his apparition to the disciples of Emmaus, in which he presented Christ as "man's hope."

In a summary on Vatican Radio, the prelate said that it is necessary to reflect on the "meaning of hope today."

"In the first place, hope today is very difficult. Many people say: 'I don't have it,'" said Bishop Corti. "In the second place, therefore, the mission of the Church is commitment to be the first to cherish hope.

"The Church must cherish hope which is Jesus, and faith in the risen Christ becomes a reason to cherish a hope that is not only human, but that involves the whole of existence until it reaches eschatology and eternal life."

"And, at the same time," he added, "Christians must ask how they can help to build a world in which there are signs of hope and that will enable people -- those who suffer, who are alone -- to have reasons for consolation, encouragement, for overcoming difficulties.

"The service of hope is a service characteristic of those who believe in Jesus Christ, living, today."

Bishop Corti dedicated today's second meditation to the Holy Spirit. He referred to the Acts of the Apostles, which speaks repeatedly of the Spirit's action in the "extraordinary gestures" carried out by Jesus' first disciples.

"It is possible to meditate on the Holy Spirit in different ways, but the simplest and most direct is to contemplate him in the experience of the early Church, as Jesus promised," the prelate added.

The Spiritual Exercises will end Saturday morning after a final meditation preached by Bishop Corti. A Mass in St. Peter's Basilica will close out the retreat. Everyone who works in the Holy See, Vatican City, and the Diocese of Rome, has been invited to the Mass.

The Blessed Sacrament will be exposed for adoration after the Mass, followed later by Benediction. This new conclusion to the Spiritual Exercises takes place in the context of the Year of the Eucharist.